|Monday 30th November 2009|
| 07:37 GMT
The weather is foul again this morning. When I left home there was some quite light drizzle. It didn't seem much to worry about, and I didn't bother putting on any of my wet weather gear. That was a mistake because in Earlsfield I found it was pouring down, and the rain, for some reason, felt much icier than it did in Catford. The rain is supposed to clear up later in the day, and hopefully it will be dry when I leave work to go home.
I am not sure why it is, but unlike many people I am usually an early riser on a Monday morning, and this morning was no exception. I was awake before 4 am, and by 5 am I was showering and dressing. In consequence I was at Catford Bridge station in time for the 06:01 train. That train should get me into work an hour early, but this morning it was not to be. There was a points problem near Vauxhall station, and my train from Waterloo to Earlsfield made very frequent, and quite long stops at every signal down the line. It made the journey about twice as long, and I only arrived at work some 40 - 45 minutes early (I didn't really check the clock to get an accurate time). Getting in so early is of no real consequence, but it does make feel feel a little less guilt if I also leave a bit early. Tonight I will (officially) be leaving about 30 minutes early in order to attend my check up with the nurse at the doctors surgery.
My experiment with Net Objects Fusion yesterday, was not very satisfactory. I had to leave the PC on overnight for it to try and make a local copy of my website (and do all it's indexiing). When it had finished it threw up an errors saying that my robots.txt file had prevented it from accessing all my pages. Obviously I did have any time to play with this morning (actually I could have, but chose not to) so I may have a play with it tonight and see if it does have any advantages over the methods I currently use. I have a suspicion that it would be most useable when building a web site from scratch, and rate rather poorly at coping with my rag tag collection of web pages. Since my first ever blog entry on Sunday 15th June 2003 I do seem to have written quite a lot, and have generated countless separate web pages. I think that is more than Net Objects Fusion can easily chew on in one piece !
|Sunday 29th November 2009|
| 16:13 GMT
The weather today has been most foul ! Apart from a few brief spells when the sun came out it has been dark, gloomy, and raining. It could have been worse ! There could have been icy gales, but the wind has been fairly mild, and it has not been too cold.
The weather is set to get worse. There have been some falls of snow over high ground in more northern parts of the country. We won't be seeing any snow in London, but the nights will be cold in the forthcoming week, and there could be several mornings where frost will feature. On top of that a big splurge of low pressure will sit on top of the country bringing more rain, more icy winds, and more gloom !
I wanted to do some shopping this morning. In particular I wanted a new roasting pan with a grill in it so I could roast a chunk of lamb, and let the fat drip down to the pan below the grill. At 10 am, when the shops opened, it was exceptionally gloomy, and fairly heavy rain was falling. Under those circumstances I kept putting off going out. Then it dawned on me that I had all my wet weather gear, and I could go out even in very heavy rain and still stay dry. So I put the over-trousers on, and the cagoule, and stepped outside. Within seconds the rain turned into light drizzle, and I could have gone out with just an ordinary jacket on and only suffered some mild dampness. It was not until I got home with my new roasting pan that the rain got considerably heavier again.
This is the second Sunday that I have had roast lamb. Last week I cooked it very slowly on a low gas for several hours. I wish I had done the same this week. My lamb today was very nice, but last week it was like the nectar of the gods. I will give todays lamb another chance to improve itself. I am going to cook the leftover in some curry sauce tonight, and then leave it infusing overnight. When I heat it up for dinner tomorrow night it should be rather excellent (in theory).
I have had a mostly lazy day today, and as usually happens on such a day I have eaten rather well. I ate rather well yesterday too. This was a bit of a mistake because I have a checkup with the nurse after work tomorrow, and all this eating is not going to make my blood sugar level, and blood pressure very impressive. I think it is going to need all my charm to persuade the nurse that everything is just fine, and will they please leave me alone to suffer in peace.
I made contact with Facebook last night. They do have an online complaints form, but it is less than impressive because it makes the assumption that you have a valid login, and can see more details about what you are complaining about. In a reasonably short time I did get a (presumably) automated email reply that was not very helpful in that it also assumed that I had been able to login to Facebook and provide extra information. One tiny cause of hope is that it did say I could reply to that email if I had further information or had been able to provide all the information they wanted. It's probably very over optimistic to assume this, but I assume a real human will read my reply, perhaps on Monday, and some wheels may be set in motion. One possibility is that they will hand over "the keys" to me and I really will have a Facebook account. I am not sure what I will do with it if that does happen, but it could be interesting.
Today I have been doing some more web page stuff. I have created a blank page for December, and I have been playing around with some more graphics. Another I have done is to investigate some alternative web page editors. I am currently writing this using Kompozer (), but Kompozer has a few quirks I am not happy with. The Windows version I am currently using (0.7.1) tends to crash when you close it down, and the Linux version has some real quirky issues with recent versions of Linux. All these problems are (allegedly) cured with version 0.81b, but that has it's own special problem. The site manager can only read from local files even though it can upload them to a distant site. That is really stupid because it is only on rare occasions that I actually log in to my server loacally. Most often I connect from another computer.
So I have had a look at some alternative web authoring applications. A couple I had a look at can only work with loacal files, but NetObjects Fusion can work with distant files, or so it seems. It does this by downloading an entire copy of the distant web site, and then edits them loacally. It presumably only uploads any changes you make when you hit the "publish" button, or whatever they call it.I don't think this is going to work out very well, but I am curious to see what it can do. At the moment it claims it is converting all my web pages as it downloads them. I do not have a clue as to what it is converting them to, but I am guessing it is to some sort of XML script. At this very moment it may have bitten off more than it can chew because it seems to have crashed. If it hasn't, and I can figure out how it works, I may add some more to this web page later on.
|Saturday 28th November 2009|
The wind that was so chilling yesterday seems to have dropped to just a breeze today. There was rain in the early hours of the morning, but a lot of today has been bright and sunny. It has still been cold despite that sunshine, but only about average for this time of the year.
My back ache continued to diminish yesterday, and today it has not been too bad. I am still getting some pain in my right hip area if I sit or stand awkwardly, but as all these pains have got less and less there is one area that seems sore for unexplained reasons. That area is the right hand area of my groin, and the pain extends into my right testicle (or so it seems). I guess it is either some sort of hernia from the whiplash movements I made earlier in the week in response to some rather agonising jolts of pain, or maybe my prostrate is about to explode. It does seem to be improving today. Either that or I have learned to sit down in such a way as to not antagonise it. If it doesn't clear up in a year or two I might mention it in passing when I see my doctor.
Most of the time I was comfortable at work yesterday, but not totally so. The obvious answer was some liquid anaesthetic on the way home, and I met up with Iain in The Ram to administer several pints of it. After two pints of Winter Warmer, one pint of Banana Bread Beer, and one pint of Double Chocolate Stout I began to feel a lot better. I also began to feel very hungry. I had some home made chicken curry waiting to be warmed up in the oven at home, but I decided that would take too long to warm up. The answer, like it was last Friday night, was to buy some fish and chips from The Catford Chippy on the way home. Once again, they were very delicious !
I didn't see Aleemah today, and I think I have been quite productive instead. In the morning I went out on two shopping expeditions, and I did some laundry. This afternoon I have been doing a lot of work on this website. The first thing was a brand new page called Get Linux. The page provides links to several Linux distributions, why you should try them, and some notes about them. The other work I have been doing is some forward thinking for next year. I have designed a new icon set for 2010, and they are probably just as bad as the ones I introduced this year. Just so you are not kept in suspense waiting for next year, here's one example.
I finally had my home made chicken curry for dinner today, and I was rather pleased how it turned out. I must confess it was not truly home made. I used a jar of Sharwoods Saag Masala as the basis of it, and all I really did was cook a couple of skinless/boneless chicken breasts in that sauce along with some mixed vegetables.
The saga of my Facebook account rumbles on ! My friend Sarah informed me that I definitely do have a Facebook page. The mystery is, who made it, because I am still 100% sure that I didn't ! One test for this has been carried out. Sarah, who does have a Facebook page, has added me as a friend. Apparently I should get an email telling me that Sarah has befriended me. 36 hours later no email has arrived at my inbox, and so I presume it has landed in my impostors inbox. I suppose I ought to try and get in contact with Facebook to see what they can do about this, but I am not optimistic that they are terribly helpful.
|Friday 27th November 2009|
| 07:53 GMT
There is now a very cruel wind blowing from the north. It hasn't cooled the air sufficiently for frost to form, but it has left a very heavy coating of condensation on car roofs, and it certainly made my ears tingle as I walked to the station to come to work. It is dry at at the moment (apart from the dew and condensation), and the sky looks fairly clear. So there seems little chance of any rain in the near future.
My guesswork about the weather yesterday morning was a little on the pessimistic side, although basically correct. Once the sky had brightened up it was obvious that the sky was mostly blue, and there were several sunny spells through the day. Around lunchtime it did rain, but it was not very heavy, and I don't think it lasted that long.
I noticed in my paper this morning that sunrise today was at 07:39, and that sunset is at 15:59. That means I am usually arriving at work before sunrise now, and the sun is setting as I leave work. This is really quite depressing, and it is still another whole month to go (give or take a couple of days) until the days start getting longer again.
My bad back continues to improve, but it is now getting boring enduring this discomfort. Over the week it has changed from agonising to painful, and now I would describe it as just uncomfortable. Fortunately there are now many times when I don't even notice it, but they tend to be later in the day. I can find a sitting position in the chair I am in now that does not cause any signifcant discomfort from my back, but it is not really a practical position to work in.
One annoying thing is that as my back improves it improves less and less (or slower and slower - whichever comes closer to a grammatical way of describing it). In other words this discomfort could linger on for a long time in an ever decreasing mild manner. I am hoping that apart from the first few seconds after getting up, that I will be almost close to normal by the end of the weekend. There is no particular reason for this timing, apart from it just feels like a few more days should be enough. After that I reckon I will still have to be careful for maybe the rest of the week.
It seems that Facebook is desperate for me to update my account. I have had a flood of emails urging me to update my account details, and they have even sent emails telling me where I can download a special tool to do this. A flood of emails like this always makes me suspicious, and receiving 5 consecutive emails, all sent with a minute or two of each other, highlights this suspicious behaviour. Could it be that I am the victim of some sort of phishing spam ? It is very probable. However the biggest giveaway is that I do not have a Facebook account !
As far as I know it is only paedophiles who have Facebook accounts (oh, and maybe their prey as well). So I guess the spammers either think I am a silly kid, or are slandering me. I sometimes suspect that those dirty old men who sign up to Facebook, and other similar "social networking" web sites have never actually met a young girl, and are relying on vague memories of semi-satisfactory gropes from their own schooldays. The standard response to these people is to keep them away from kids. I suggest that is the wrong approach. They should be forced to ride on buses at around 4 pm near inner London comprehensive schools. They would very soon appreciate the reality that schoolgirls are dirty, smelly, ugly, vicious, and above all, way above all, exceedingly noisy creatures whose sex appeal comes some way below that of 3 day old roadkill !
|Thursday 26th November 2009|
Just like yesterday, the ground was very wet when I left home to come to work. Evidently there had been some rain overnight. Happily it was not accompanied by high winds. Even though I am work, and have been for nearly twenty minutes now, there is still not enough light in the sky to see how the clouds look. I think the sky is fairly clear, but I also suspect there will be more rain today. I think it will be cooler today as well. Very soon now the weather will be coming from the north bringing cold air with it. Maybe next week will see a return to frosts in the morning.
Yesterday turned out to be quite sunny. If the air had been still, and maybe a little closer to warm, it might have been a nice day. I tried to find the most sheltered spot possible during one of my fag breaks, but there was too much breeze cooling me off, and I never did feel any significant warmth from the weak and watery winter sun.
The saga of my sore back continues. Yesterday I was reasonably comfortable at work, but once again I was not totally pain free by the end of the day as I had been on earlier days when the pain at the beginning of the day was very considerably worse. One possible reason for this is lack of booze. I finished my November bottle of scotch when the pain was quite bad, and I won't be buying another until I am paid at the beginning of the month. I will be having a beer before then though, and it could even happen tonight, although tomorrow, Friday, night is more likely.
Today there is some improvement to my back (and buttock and hip) pain. Judging from the way I could put my socks on without enduring agonies is one measure of the improvement (and tieing up my shoelaces is another). Things seem to be settling down to a sort of general low level of variable, but semi-continuous discomfort rather than the agonising spasms I had when this first started almost a week ago. One observation I have made is that much of the aching is now on my right hand side. I have no idea what the significance of that is, but it is a sort of improvement to just have one sore buttock, hip, thigh, upper leg, and of course the right hand side of the small of my back.
Moaning about my back is really the only significant thing I have done recently. Last night was just, arrive home, fed the cat, let the cat out, watch some TV while dinner cooked in the oven, eat dinner, watch a bit more TV, and then go to bed quite early (soon after 8 pm).
I actually did a bit more stuff while at work. In particular, I experiment with "forwarding X over ssh with compression". In this case "X" is the X server that runs the graphical interface on a Linux based PC, "ssh" is a secure communications protocal, and "forwarding" in this case means remotely using an application on a distant computer. I frequently log into my server at home from my work computer, and to do so I use the ssh protocol. Occasionally I want to run an application that has a graphical display (instead of just plain text on a terminal), and to do this I have to forward "X" from the remote server to a local display. Squeezing that down an internet conection makes things very slow - for instance a new window opening could take many seconds. On Tuesday I learned that it was possible to use compression to squeeze even more down the connection, and yesterday I found this was enough to make even a full remote desktop almost usable. For the record, the command line incantation for this is :-
ssh -X -C user@address where user is a user name, and address is the i.p. address, or domain name of a remote computer.
|Wednesday 25th November 2009|
| 08:00 GMT
As my train pulled in Earlsfield station this morning there was a seemingly thick heavy bank of cloud on the horizon where the sun should have been rising. The rest of the sky looked quite clear, although on the opposite horizon the sky was still dark because it was still too early in the morning. Sometime earlier in the morning there must have been some rain, and judging from size of the puddles it must have been very heavy rain here in Earlsfield. It is not very cold this morning, and if it arms up a little, and the sky remains clear, it could be a very nice day for this time of year. Of course that won't happen. The weather charts on TV last night showed a horrendous pile of cloud heading in from the Atlantic on strong winds.
Yesterday was a very grey day. As far as I am aware there was no significant rain, but there was also hardly any daylight either. For a lot of the day I had to turn a lamp on to be able to read comfortably. I think much of the day was fairly calm, but in the evening the wind picked up, and although I might have just been more aware of it while I was in bed, it did seem that there was a howling gale for much of the night.
I woke up yesteday feeling very rough. My lower back ache that has plagued me since last Friday was back again, and I did seem to be suffering from the effects of my double 'flu vaccination. I think the chief reaction was just one of fatigue. Several times I decided I ought to do something, but in the end I just sat in the warm reading or watching TV for most of the day.
I feel fine this morning except for the irritating back ache. I noticed yesterday that it started a lot milder than on previous days, but there was less improvement as the day passed. This morning the ache is maybe not so bad, but I still had to be very careful while putting my shoes and socks on.
On the first train into work this morning, a SouthEastern class 465 train, I was really quite comfortable. The seats on those trains seem to provide support in all the right places. The walk from Waterloo East to Waterloo mainline station was not particularly uncomfortable, but as on even the very best days, the seats on South West Trains class 455 trains were uncomfortable, and this morning particularly so.
My chair at work seems to provide a reasonable degree of support for my lower back, but I am still a little uncomfortable, and until things improve I think frequent short walks are going to be needed. I think I'll go and have one right now - a good excuse for a fag !!
|Monday 23rd November 2009|
I have now had not one, but two 'flu injections ! One in my left arm for swine 'flu, and one in my right arm for seasonal 'flu. It seems I have a couple of possible things to look forward to now. The first, and more likely, is a feeling that I have been punched very hard on one, or both arms. That was predicted to happen this evening, and I think I begin to feel it starting even now.
The second possibility is that I will develop temporary symptoms, probably overnight, that are very similar to having 'flu itself. Whether that will be swine 'flu like symptoms, or seasonal 'flu like symptoms, or if there is any difference between the two, will be something I will discover when I wake up tomorrow morning perhaps.
Either of these two conditions should go well with my bad back, and I suspect that my back will probably give me some trouble in the morning anyway. Right now my back is very well behaved. I still have some temder areas that I sometimes find when attempting some movement that I shouldn't, but overall I am out of pain now, and have been for a couple of hours now. As I slowly get over this bad back episode I seem to feel comfortable earlier and earlier in the day, but I fear it will be sometime before a hot shower in the morning provides enough relief to be able to go to put my socks on (for instance) without a lot of extreme discomfort.
I hope I am wrong in my assumption about my back being bad in the morning, but if I am right I may well take tomorrow off sick and blame it on a reaction to the 'flu vaccinations I have had today. Of course it is possible that I will genuinely be suffering from those vaccinations. So this could be a boolean choice - bad back OR fever == day off sick ! I must admit that an day off sick to further rest my back is attractive in it's own right, but I don't think I want to take a days sick leave with a bad back as the only excuse.
One other thing happened when I saw the nurse for those jabs. I was reminded again that I am very overdue for a check-up, but after hearing it would be done by the nurse I reluctantly agreed that an appointment should be made for me. So I am due to see the nurse after work next Monday. In theory that could give me just enough time to get myself in slightly better shape. Maybe if I feel OK tomorrow I might start then, but not tonight. It may be just my imagination but I am beginning to feel very tired. It's almost as if my body is already trying to fight the vaccines. There are no particular pains in my arms yet. So at least that's OK for now, but if this wave of fatigue I am beginning to feel now is any indication of how I may feel tomorrow then it doesn't bode well for me.
I don't think I have ever written the word "bode" before, and having written it I am not sure if it is even a real word, and if it is, whether I am using it correctly, but hopefully you will know what I mean.
It's another rainy morning, but like yesterday turned out, I am hoping that the rain will dry up later in the morning, and that there may even be some sunshine. Once again it is not that cold for a late November morning. If it were not for all the warm damp air blowing in from the Atlantic we would be seeing frost at this time of the year.
After complaining about the rain yesterday morning, and suggesting that it would probably continue through the day, I was pleasantly surprised when the sun started to shine. Ironically it was not that long after I had written about the rain that the skies cleared to give that sunshine.
This morning my lower back is aching again. In some ways it is not as bad as yesterday, or Saturday, but it is still pretty bad. Probably the worst aspect of it is the amount of collateral pain that happens as I attempt to find comfortable positions, or flinch away from the pain in my lower back. My stomach muscles seem to be affected as much as any other part of my body, but the aches and pains also exttend into the top of my legs. A good hot shower, and a liberal application of Ibuprofen Gel stiill provides a lot of relief, but it takes time.
Activity also helps. About an hour ago I walked in light rain to the station to pick up a copy of the Metro (free newspaper). I am not sure that did help this time, but it ought to have done so. Maybe if I had done the full journey to work it may have helped more, or maybe not. I am quite glad that I am not at work this morning because at least here I can lie down, and that is the one single position I can be in where I am, more or less, completely comfortable.
The disadvantage of lying down is that seems to be the trigger for making my back worse. Yesterday I did some lying down, but I also tried to be active as well. Later in the evening, provided I was careful with how I positioned myself, I was almost pain free. I did help that on it's way by a couple of large whiskies in the late afternoon, and it does seem that alcohol is the best treatment for this pain. The problem there is that it is not something you can use at just any old time. Once I have had my 'flu jab today I might have another large whisky before relaxing. Oddly enough, although I describe my whiskies as being large, it only takes about a quarter of the amount that would be needed to feel some slight drunkenness to get the benefit of pain relief. I guess it is just enough to relax some of the tense muscles that conribute to the pain.
I didn't install my new multimedia PC in the living room as I planned yesterday. I am still doing a few experiments with it, and like most fresh installations of Linux I had to leave it for some time as it updated itself with a host of new files. Usually this would be quite quick, but the servers in Turkey, where all these updates come from, do not seem to have very fast upload speeds. Files were typically arriving at as little as a tenth of the speed that the more major Linux distributions can manage.
While this updating was going on I did actually use the PC in it's intended way, or at least one of them. I found that my wireless keyboard and mouse were quite happy being used from the front room while the PC was in the back room, and although I could barely make out what I was typing, I managed to enter the URL for Radio Caroline and listen to some music via the TV. I have subsequently increased the font sizes of most applications and it is a little more usable when using the TV screen as the monitor.
I don't know how Pardus Linux is configuring the S-video output. I thought the configuration would be stored in a file called xorg.conf, but that is almost empty, and yet that is supposed to be where the X server gets it's information from. Obviously I know a lot less about it than I thought ! There are also some other unexplained oddities that seem to affect the X server. (The X server is what generates the graphical display on a Linux PC). I cannot even begin to imagine why adding a network drive to the file system should affect the X server, but since doing so the main monitor has dropped it's resolution down several notches. Also, doing some other stuff cause the S-video output to switch off. Fortunately in the latter case it is restored after a reboot, but that could get tricky if I want to use the TV as the only monitor. One thing I must investigate is a vague memory of seeing the option to use the S-video output as the primary output in the BIOS settiings. If that setting does exist it could make using the TV a bit more stable.
I may well continue to experiment with the new PC today - maybe before I go to get my Swine 'flu jab, or maybe after. Right now I am feeling uncomfortable after having sat at this keyboard for far too long. Time for a lie down maybe !
|Sunday 22nd November 2009|
| 05:41 GMT
There are copious amounts of rain falling this morning, and I don't think it will stop until the afternoon. On the plus side, it is still relatively mild for this time of year.
Yesterday was a lot drier, and there was even a fair amount of sunshine around the middle of the day. There was also a lot less wind than recently. At one point, while walking back from the shops, the wind died completely, and with the sun falling on my dark jacket it felt quite warm.
That sun did feel good on my aching back. When I first got up yesterday morning, my back was particularly bad. I am sure it was worse than on Friday morning. During the day it did improve quite a lot. Walking around helped, and a good rubbing of Ibuprofen Gel probably helped a lot more. By late evening, helped along by one further ingredient, namely a couple of very large scotch whiskies, I was fairly comfortable.
This morning my back was still very sore, but it was not as bad as on the two previous mornings. After a very hot shower, and another liberal rubbing of Ibuprofen Gel, I think it is improving faster than it did yesterday. Even this early in the morning I can tolerate sitting here at the keyboard for short periods of time, although I do have to sit bolt upright like some sort of Victorian school teacher.
In amongst all the pain and suffering there was some good news yesterday. To relive the boredom I decided to test out a couple of Linux distributions from magazine cover disks. One of them was Pardus Linux. This distribution come from Turkey and doesn't run as a live CD as many modern distributions do. To test it I had to do a full installation to hard disk. While it was doing it's installation I went into the front room where I had a look to see if anything interesting was on TV. It was ! On the s-video input channel was the Pardus installer doing it's stuff. The TV wasn't able to display all the fine detail, and the picture was indistinct because of that. I wouldn't have expected any more, and I certainly didn't expect to see anything. It seems that Pardus is the one Linux distribution that knows how to use the S-Video output of the integrated graphics on my new motherboard. Until that point I was convinced I would have to use a Microsoft Windows solution if I was to hook up the PC to my TV, but not now, and that gives me a huge range of free software to experiment with now.
My plans for today include going for at least one walk. It will probably only be a quick tour around the high street, but I might make a foray into the park as well. Hopefully that will help loosen up my back some more (it appeared to yesterday). Other than that I have a book to read, and then later on, assuming my back is not too painful, I may make steps towards installing my new multimedia computer in the living room next to the TV. That will involve a fair bit of tidying and re-arranging, and that may not be easy if I am in too much pain.
If I don't do some of these thing today I have another opportunity tomorrow. I have taken the whole day off work so I can have my swine 'flu vacination at 2.30 pm. Even though some might say that the doctors surgery is the best place to be if I am in pain, I would prefer it that my back is behaving well before I go there. Allowing doctors to practice on me with just one injection was possibly madness, but I think I can do without any more practice sessions, thank you. Anyway, why do doctors practice. You would have thought that in the 21st century they would have learned how to do medicine properly by now.
|Friday 20th November 2009|
The rain is back, and back in a big way. It started raining just before I left for work, and is still raining now. From the look of the sky it will keep raining all day long (and then tomorrow, and probably the day after too).
It seems that in common with many of my ancestors I have now got the ability to predict rain. Last night my lower back and hips started to feel sore and stiff. This morning I am often in a lot (a very big lot !) of pain because of this. It is going to be not a lot of fun if this ability to predict the rain gets more commonplace. To make life just that little bit more miserable the most painful thing I did this morning was to sit down on the toilet. It's a business that needs a certain amount of comfort to proceed, and I found extreme difficulty finding a suitable position where I was comfortable enough to do what had to be done. The seats on South West Trains class 455 trains often seem uncomfortable to me, and this morning I came very close to standing up for the journey despite being in an almost empty carriage.
Right now I am sitting down at work and my hips and lower back merely ached very badly. Standing up again is quite painful, but I think I ought to remember to do it quite often before I set solid. Once I am standing it's not too bad, and I can still walk very freely, but I think that lying down is the most comfortable position at the moment. Unfortunately I can't easily do that here at work, and for that reason it is possible I will go home early today. If I don't go home early I am definitely in favour of having a drink after work even if that means having one, or more, excessively large whiskies at home.
Strangely enough, all this pain is not a good reason for depression. What is a good reason is that I feel I am going to have to accept using Windows XP for my new media (or maybe even "multimedia") computer. No matter what I do I just can't seem to get the S-video output working correctly even after trying several different Linux distributions, and breaking the Xorg.conf file many times while experimenting. Open Suse Linux came the closest to working, or at least it's graphics properties control panel came closest to setting things up. The problem seems to be that every distibution thinks I am running an extra monitor, and doesn't believe I want to connect to a humble TV set. The deeper problem is that Intel provide less support for the graphics adapters for Linux than ATI or Nvidia do. In researching my problem I have come across countless references to these two latter graphics chips makers, but little for Intel. There has even been a suggestion that Nvidia provide a control panel that is the same, or at least similar, to the one that is provided for Windows PCs. That control panel (and I think I have it on the Windows PC in the front bedroom) lets you customise things down to the last iota (sort of). I suppose the lesson to be learned here is not to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics on it when you need special facilities, but the little board I bought did seem perfect for the job I wanted at the time.
|Thursday 19th November 2009|
I've just been outside for a fag. For a few moments the sun came out, and the wind dropped. I turned my face to the sun, and with eyes closed I could almost imagine it was a summers day. Then the clouds started to obscure the sun, the wind started blowing again, and the illusion was shattered. Now it's back to the miserable reality of late autumn again, although it does look like there will be more sunny spells today.
This morning is grey ! The sky is filled with scudding grey clouds in various shades of grey, and without even the merest hint of any blue. Maybe that will change later. The forecasts seems all mixed up to me, and I don't think I am even going to attempt to predict what might, or might not happen today. The only things I am sure about are that the sky is grey, there is a fairly strong wind blowing, and it is cool outside.
Yesterday was probably a example of what today may be. It was cloudy, windy and cool ! All the cloud made it very dismal going home from work. It was semi gloomy from the moment I left work, and of course it was totally night by the time I got home.
There were some events in my medical situation yesterday. The first was that I accepted an invite, sent by text message to my mobile phone (what a wonderfully progressive medical practice I occasionally attend !). The invite was for a swine 'flu innoculation. In a moment of madness I accepted this, and I will have a big needle plunged into my arm next Monday afternoon. If Patricia's experience is anything to go by I will experience a severe fever the next day. Maybe that won't happen because it is just possible I have already had swine 'flu, and I am already immune to the innoculation !
The other medical thing is that I went to the clinic to pick up my repeat prescription for all the blood pressure regulating drugs that seem to do very little, but I take anyway. The "group medical practice" I occasionally attend/visit (or whatever) think they are very progressive and hi-tech with their own web site. One of the recommended things is to submit a repeat prescription request via the web site, and this I did. When I visited reception to pick up my prescription there was no record of my request anywhere ! So they hurriedly cobbled one together, and I took it into the next door pharmacy to get my drugs.
While waiting in the pharmacy I bumped into the nurse who I saw when I first attended the place back at the beginning of the year. I heard from her that my Doctor, the rather pretty Angelika, had left the practice, and that the next time I attend I will be seeing a new doctor. This could be good or bad. Angelika was pleasant on the eye, but did seem to be on a mission to try and extend my life. The problem is, or was, she wasn't terribly good at it. I have no doubts about her ability as a doctor as such, but somehow she didn't seem to make a very convincing case for it. This wasn't really helped by me going into paranoid mode and assuming it was all a government plot to homogenise everybody. Of course the idea that the government wants everybody to be the same shape and size, with the same blood chemistry, and the same blood pressure is as ridiculous as thinking that an MP would try to rip off the taxpayers by spending out money on their own luxuries, or that an MP would ignore scientific advice in favour of his own paranoid views. So it couldn't happen at all. Anyway, just because I am paranoid doesn't prove they aren't out to get me. Anyhow, my new doctor, whovever he or she may be, may approach things from a different tack. It could possibly help if he/she spent less time trying to convince me I am ill, and more time saying I am basically alive, but things could be improved. It's a subtle change, but like medicine in general, it might work.
|Wednesday 18th November 2009|
| 08:45 GMT
The main feature of this morning's weather is the wind. Some of the gusts feel fairly strong, and if it was raining the rain could be hitting you horizontally. I have felt a few specks of rain blowing in the wind, but overall it is a dry morning. The weather forecasts suggest that it will stay dry today, and we could even see some sunshine. My own view is that it will rain today, but I am undecided on whether it will be a lot of rain, or just a few wet spells.
Yesterday was reasonably bright and dry. A few degrees warmer and it could have been classified as a nice day. On the scale from icy cold to sweltering hot, I would say that yesterday was somewhere between cool and tepid. Of course that means nothing at all. So an alternative description was that I felt barely comfortable when going outside for a fag with just a shirt on.
The weather did try it's best to end on a good note. The sun was doing it's best to shine as I walked from work to the station, and it was brighter than the day before, but with the sun already on the horizon there was not that much to cheer about.
Back in Catford, feeling like it was the middle of the night, I went home via Tesco. This time I remembered the kitchen towel that I forgot last time, and I also remembered that I will shortly be needing more toothpaste. So while there were some very positive aspects to my shopping there were also some negative aspects. I was suckered into buying some pork belly strips because they had a reduced price sticker on them. Now I do love pork belly strips that have been cooked enough for the rind to go crackly, but they are not exactly good for me. Crunching on the crackly rind is potentially disasterous for my teeth, and even when very well cooked the meat is still extremely fatty. On the plus side they were devastatingly delicious, but there was one other negative thing. All that grease did give me some gut ache last night, and to a lesser extent I am still suffering this morning, but they were mouthwateringly delicious !!
One other thing I did last night (apart from gourmet gut rot) was to try a brand new installation of Linux Mint 7 on my new media-centric mini PC. With the Dell monitor attached the installation went perfectly, and I think that had my TV been capable of displaying 60Hz pictures (which I thought it could, but apparently not) I would have had the perfect set up. As far as I can see I am going to have to do some serious configuration file composing to get the TV output to be a British 50Hz signal. The other good(ish) thing was that I also tried Elisa, a Linux media display program. It looks nice, and is mostly controllable by remore control, but it didn't seem to realise that I had a working TV tuner connected to the PC. I feel I am now making good progress on this project, but I still have some way to go before I can
|Tuesday 17th November 2009|
I think the forecast was for a dry day today, and it was certainly dry when I left home to come to work. With my immense optimism (only about the weather) I made an assumption that the sky would be clear if today was to be dry. I left early enough to catch the early train (06:31), and it was only sometime after I was on the second leg of my journey, the train from Waterloo, that the sky began to get light enough to see that it was very cloudy. Maybe it wasn't actual cloud but just mist, because now I can see a lot of blue in the sky. There is still no sign of any sunshine yet, but it now seems there is a fair chance for some sunshine today.
The rain that made yesterday morning fairly unpleasant faded away during the morning, and there was even a few sunny spells. By home time the sky was still reasonably clear, but the sun was so low that it was already gloomy as I walked to the station at Earlsfield. To all intents and purposes it was night time as I got the train from Waterloo East station, and if it hadn't been for the street lighting it would have been pitch black as I walked from the station to home. Depressingly, there is still roughly a month to go before the days start getting longer again, and this time next month my entire journey to and from work will be in total night.
I did one important thing last night, but only at the cost of making myself late to bed. I swapped computer monitors between the upstairs front bedroom, which only has a Windows based machine, and the back room downstairs where I do all my experimenting. The monitor that has caused me so much grief downstairs works perfectly upstairs, and a test of the monitor now downstairs has tentatively proved a theory. That theory was that the Sun PV1710 monitor does not correctly identify itself when challenged by software on a PC. The most common thing it causes is that a fresh installation of Linux (or Mac OSX) sets itself to a screen resolution (or refresh rate) that the monitor can't handle.
Making myself late for bed was an unfortunate side effect of testing that theory, but having done so I feel some more experimenting comining on using the Dell branded monitor that was previously upstairs. If a Linux installation can correctly identify the monitor it may then use the correct graphic drivers, and that may allow me to use the S-video output properly on my new media intended computer. However, as well as getting to bed late, I also took a long time to fall asleep, and I didn't sleep all that well. It was one of those nights where the bed is simultaneously too hot and too cold, and where every lump, bump, of crease in the sheets feels ten time bigger than it really is. So this morning I do feel a bit tired, and tonight I must try and discipline myself to get to bed early instead of playing with computers into the night !
|Monday 16th November 2009|
It was wet, very wet, when I left home to come to work this morning. It was mainly my timing because the rain has been very intermittetent, but I had to leave when I had to leave. This afternoon is forecast to be drier, but I wouldn't rule out more rain for the journey home from work again. Some sources say tomorrow should be a nicer day, but the BBC "Countryfile" weather forecast suggests that Wednesday will be the better day. After that more rain is forecast. All this wet air is coming in from the mid Atlantic, and as well as being very wet, it is also relatively warm. I think it was Thursday where the forecast is for the temperature to be as high as 16° C (but of course it will also be very wet too).
This morning was in complete contrast to yesterday morning. It may have been wet in the early hours, but at about 10.30 when I went out shopping it was almost warm, definitely dry, and very sunny. It seemed so good that I did not even bother putting a coat on. Wearing just a t-shirt (and jeans) felt very comfortable, and where I managed to walk in direct sunlight I could feel my black t-shirt getting quite hot.
My thoughts were not on bad weather, and clothing for it, while I was shopping (in Aldi, for a change), but I noticed they had some reasonable looking mens gloves for sale. Now I have no idea how much a pair of lined black leather gloves should cost, but £5.99 seemed like a good price so I bought two slightly different pairs. What I didn't buy, and one of the reasons for going shopping in the first place, was any kitchen towel. Other stuff I did buy I shouldn't have - things like mixed vegetable crisps, and winter spiced parsnip crisps. The good thing about these latter two items is that they only cost 69p from Aldi, and the nearest equivalent that Tesco sells is double that price (or more). I sometimes wonder why crisps (or chips as I believe they call them in the colonies) made from parsnip should cost any more than those made from potato. I guess you are paying a huge premium for the novelty value.
I did lots of experiments with my new computer yesterday, but none of them were totally conclusive. However I think I have identified one problem that has caused me trouble in the past. The LCD monitor I am using while experimenting does not seem to be identifying itself properly when installing Linux. I know that it can respond to requests for it's identity and capabilities, but maybe the timing is funny or something. The net result of this problem is that most Linux installers default to a screen resolution that my monitor can't display. Worse still, although I am clutching at straws here, is that the identification process is also linked with choosing the correct graphics card driver. Whatever the actual truth is behind all this, the outcome is that I usually end up with a blank screen with "signal out of range" displayed by the monitor itself, and a generic VESA driver installed instead of the correct Intel one with TV out capabilities. The cure for all this trouble is probably just to do the initial setting up with a different monitor - and that is something I will be doing later.
My journey into work this morning was not without it's difficulties, but it also came with some rewards. Walking in pouring rain and staying bone dry is still a novelty for me. This morning it was enhanced by wearing my new black leather gloves as well as the cagoule and over trousers. I say bone dry, but that is not strictly true. My arms felt a bit cold as they were only seperated from the rain by a thin shirtsleeve, and thin plastic. Over bits of my were better insulated, and particularly so for my legs. Before reaching the conclusion to this is is also neccesary to explain that I just missed my usual train, and the next one was cancelled. Upon arriving at the station for what would be the first time, I was surprised to see a train already in the platform. I thought I had left in time to catch that train, but I was delayed for longer than I thought when I stopped to pull on my over trousers. So I had another walk through the rain back to home where I waited for 15 minutes before going out to catch the next train.
That train was effectively carrying two trainloads of passengers, and is usually quite a busy train on the best of days. To say it was a bit of a squeeze to get on would be a mild understatement. So there I was, crammed in with similarly dripping people, after walking to the station twice in fairly quick succession. It was warm in there. In act it was almost steamy. As the outside of my wet weather gear dried off, I became damper inside from sweat. I finally arrived at work feeling quite unpleasant, although once I took off the wet weather stuff I seemed to dry out within minutes.
|Sunday 15th November 2009|
I was awoken by a torrential downpour at around 4 am this morning. Since then the clouds have gone away, and there is bright sunshine. This may only be temporary, but it is a grand improvement over yesterday.
Yesterday was one very soggy day ! At times it barely seemed as if the sun had risen, and the rainfall was very abundant. There were even a few times when thunder and lightning crashed around the heavens. That's pretty unusual for November, and something I usually associate with the summer months. Despite all that it was almost warm outside. I had to use very little heating, and sometimes I even left the window open here in the back room where I spent a lot of yesterday. It would have been nice to give the house a bit of an airing, but one other weather feature stopped me opening too many windows - the wind was often really strong and gusty. I did leave my bedroom window open a crack to freshen it up, but when I tried the same in the front bedroom the wind had the net curtain flying horizontally.
Friday night was a huge disappointment, but it did have it's compensations. I was due to meet Patricia and Dee for an early evening drink in the Lewisham Wetherspoons pub. While on the train home from work I had a text message from Patricia that she had had a swine 'flu vaccination earlier in the day (or possibly the previous day), and had now broken out in a fever and would not be at the pub. As for Dee, well I never saw or heard anything from her. So I spent the time in the pub on my own reading a newspaper. The compensation was that Wetherspoons are currently holding their autumn beer festival. I was able to try some Wells "Banana Bread Beer" which was delicious. Some other dark beer, and just half a pint of Gouden Carolus. The latter is an 8% Belgium beer, and was also rather good. I could easily have had another half of that, and maybe one more after that, but I decided to go home and sulk instead.
My thanks to Mike for sending me a powerpoint slideshow featuring some "interesting" sights. One of the slides in particular caught my eye, and I think I am in love !!
Yesterday was both frustrating and interesting. I have bought myself a new PC (in kit form) and I spent all day experimenting with it. Following my failure in being able to use the Hisense media player I bought (and which Iain may well be buying from me), and the non appearance of the old Xbox that I was offered, I ordered a kit of parts to build a new home made media player. I assembled the cut little box at work on Friday afternoon, and did a quick installation of Linux on it using a spare hard drive as an experiment.
Yesterday I sat down to try and do the job properly. One of the features of the motherboard I ordered was that it has an S-video output to connect to my TV. Inside the box I fitted a rather crap AverTV DVB-T digital TV card. That digital TV card is not well supported by Linux, and is rather crap when used with Windows. To my surprise I managed to get it to work, and work reasonably well using Linux Mint 6. At that point everything should have been plain sailing, but it wasn't. For some reason Linux Mint 6 refused to use the proper drivers for the Intel graphics card on the motherboard, and without them I could not use the TV out connection. This was quite surprising considering that the chipset on the motherboard was almost, if not actually, identical to the chipset in my Acer Aspire 1 netbook - and that runs Linux Mint 6 with the correct drivers. It is possible that the digital TV card was somehow messing things up, but I am not sure why that should be the case.
I reluctantly decided that I would try Windows XP instead of Linux and see how that fared. I used the same drivers that I had downloaded for my netbook for it's installation of Windows, and they all worked correctly. I now had TV out, but the digital TV card displayed all it's intransigence when using Windows drivers. It all appeared to install OK, but I could not tune in any channels (though some appeared to be detected). Upon updating to the latest drivers the whole machine would just lock up solid whenever I tried to scan for channels. More irritatingly I found that when I tried it again using Linux it could not tune in a single channel ! Those dodgy Windows drivers must have corrupted it's firmware or something.
I decided that attempting to continue to use that digital TV card was a waste of effort, and removed it. One day I will have to put it back into a Windows PC and see if a virgin install will bring it back to life even if it doesn't work too well. Instead of the internal TV card I opted to use my USB digital TV stick. At least that works OK, and as I left things last night I had a useable system which can show and record TV, play video files, and play music files, but I still want to use Linux to do these things.
Today I will try and new Linux installation in the 300 GB of hard disk space I deliberately left when I installed Windows. If I can get the TV out working this time there are a couple of applications that I want to try. One is Moovida, and the other is Elisa. Both these are "media centre" applications, and should provide a good, easy to navigate, interface on a comparatively low resolution TV screen. Before all that though, it is high time I got washed and dressed, and then go out and buy some shopping.
|Friday 13th November 2009|
After yesterday's mostly bright sunny day it is all change again. This morning it is raining, and the weather forecasts say it will probably rain all day, and that it may well continue tomorrow too. One the plus side, the wet weather is coming in from the west, and bringing a little bit of warmth with it. While it is not warm outside, it is not particularly cold. I would guess that the temperature now is close to double figures, and it might rise to 11° C, or a bit higher, during the day.
This morning, with the rain moderately heavy as I left home to come to work, it was time to try out the full wet weather gear for commuting. I discovered I can pull on my waterproof over-trousers while still wearing my shoes, but it is a bit tricky, and I most definitely had to sit down to do it. The water proof over-trousers, and my cagoule almost kept me completely dry as I made my way into work. I say "almost completely" because as I took the cagoule off I managed to drip over my shirt. As well as those drips I was also getting a little sweaty underneath all that plastic. Getting sweaty was a bit strange because I only had a shirt on underneath the cagoule, and the cagoule itself is only thin plastic which has no insulating properties at all. Well, maybe it does insulate you from the wind, and I suppose that any layer of air trapped beneath it acts as insulation.
Last night I was feeling quite good. The remaining odd twinges were ignorable against the eleation of not having any major twinges. At least I think that is how it was. I was certainly feeling good enough to carry out two unusual chores. The first was to empty, and refresh Smudge's litter tray. She uses it so rarely that I only change the contents very rarely, but with this wet weather she is far less inclined to spend any useful time outdoors.
The second thing I did was very unusual for me. I actually washed my hair in the evening. Generally speaking I only ever wash my hair in the morning. For reasons that I can't explain, but lack of practice is probably significant, I can't use a air dryer. The idea of wielding tools behind my head is quite an alien idea for me. So rather than go to bed with wet hair I always wash it in the morning - except for last night, and the odd rare occasion in the past. I did it early enough that it was 99% dry when I went to bed a couple of hours later. I don't know why I don't do this more often. It is a lot better than doing it in a freezing bathroom first thing in the morning !
This morning I do feel that I am over whatever it was that made me feel so crap. I still have the odd ache here and there from time to time, but that is just normal for me now. To celebrate this I am going for a drink after work tonight, but it will only be a small drink - two or three pints. I may have a large scotch when I get back home again (something I forgot to do last night), and I don't think I'll be rushing to bed quite as early as usual. I am not seeing Aleemah tomorrow, and I think I am going to try and get as much sleep and rest in as I can during the morning to conolidate feeling better.
|Thursday 12th November 2009|
At last, a bright sunny morning ! It is also slightly milder than yesterday. Earlier in the week, the forecast for today was for lots of grey skies and rain. Now it seems as if it is set to be a fairly fine day with temperatures just about getting into double figures (Centigrade).
My predictions for yesterday were very wrong, as they were the day before that. The few small patches of blue I saw in the morning did not get bigger. Instead they disappeared, and we were left with intermittent drizzle for much of the day. Some showers must have been a lot heavier than mere drizzle. I did see some big puddles that were evidence of heavier rain, but I must have been indoors everytime one of these happened.
There was a big improvement in my "man 'flu" yesterday. Unlike on Monday and Tuesday, I felt comfortably warm yesterday, and by the afternoon I was feeling quite good, but that was only quite good by comparison. I was still suffering from some stiffness in my legs, although my back had eased up a lot. Once I got my legs working hard as I made my way home from work, they did loosen up, but then my leg muscles started to complain a bit.
I felt very tired last night, and after my two cans of soup, some other food, and a very large scotch, I had an early night. I was in bed by 7:40 pm, and asleep by at least 8 pm. It was very easy to get to sleep considering that I was a little uncomfortable after eating my dinner. The two cans of soup obviously contained a lot of liquid, and that is always quite filling. I fist had a can of chicken soup, and then a can of tomato soup. I did bulk up the tomato soup when I had an unexplainable urge to tip a can of mixed taco beans, along with some hot chilli sauce into it. Considering that I was already feeling a little windy (or farty) that may not have been a wise choice, but we'll see how I fare later this afternoon.
Considering that I have been waking up over an hour before my alarm is set to go off recently, it was quite a surprise to be woken up by my alarm. I did wake up once or twice during the night, but only very briefly. So it seems I got close to a full nine hours sleep last night. After all that I could easily have gone back to bed for some more, but work beckoned. I didn't really feel like coming to work this morning. My legs still feel stiff, and I am still getting some pain from my hips. The few other bits that ache, including my head at one point, were virtually irrelevant compared to, say, my knees. To add to my discomfort I came across quite hot and sweaty while on the train from Waterloo to Earlsfield. This may have actually been a good thing because in my experience a good sweat often signals the end of an illness.
The next big question is what am I suffering from ? I haven't really suffered the extreme fatigue that 'flu is famous for, but otherwise many of the symptoms are similar. Maybe it is one of these new fancy strains of 'flu such as Zebra 'flu, or Haddock 'flu. Well, whatever it is, or was, it seems to have passed it's peak now with no serious damage to my body. With luck I will be feeling fine for the weekend, although with heavy showers, strong freezing winds, and day struggling to overcome night, I may as well stay in bed whatever the state of my health !
|Wednesday 11th November 2009|
The weather this morning is possibly the best we can expect for mid November. The temperature is low, but not chillingly so. Apart from condensation on all the cars, it is dry, and there are a few breaks in the grey clouds. It appears that the cloud is still breaking up, and that could mean some weak watery sunshine later.
If today's weather turns out better than yesterday it will be a good thing ! Yesterday was pretty grim. It was quite chilly outside, and I can't recall a single hint of sunshine. Several times during the day there were some light splashes of very light rain, and as evening approached that rain became a little more persistent, and a tiny bit heavier.
I feel I can't blame it all on the weather, or from sitting around all day on Sunday watching my TV set, but I still feel pretty rough. The quite irritating back ache I had on Monday did improve slightly as Monday progressed, and improved even more yesterday. As my back ache has improved the causes of that ache, which I shall call Krotons in honour of some very early Dr Who monsters, and also in honour of a local road here in Earlsfield (and for want of a better comical name) have been on the move and now more bits of me ache. Krotons are, of course, extraterrestrial invaders that are small enough to penetrate the skin where they emit dhrabu waves that cause localised pain. I am guessing they initially entered via a well documented opening just below the base of the spine, and proceeded to radiate intense dhrabu waves causing my lower back, and hips to be really quite sore. Now they have broken up into exploratory parties. Many are exploring my knees, and a few are exploring other bits of my legs. Others are exploring the upper part of my torso where they are making my chest, neck, arms and to a lesser extent, my hands to ache at various stengths. A few may have reached my neck and jaw. A bit earlier this morning I thought one may have reached my snot gland, but if it did it seems not to have stayed there.
While all this assault on my body goes on I have occasionally checked my body temperature. Yesterday morning, very soon after getting up, it was way down at 35.3° C. Since then it seems that my dead body is still cooling off. I checked my temperature just after I had arrived at work. After sitting on two quite warm trains, and doing some reasonably fast walking totalling to about 20 minutes, I found my digital thermometer telling me my temperature was now down to a suitably cryogenic temperature of 34.5° C.
Despite what doctors would call pain, I felt quite good in some ways. Maybe the battle to get to work has released endorphins in the same way that a good challenging walk can do (or other forms of exercise). Endorphins are naturally released opiate like chemicals that can give you a buzz like opiates do. I think my theory about them may be true. Having now sat quietly here at work for nearly an hour their effect seems to be wearing off, and I feel a bit grottier now.
I felt particularly bad as I came to the end of the working day yesterday. I had felt cool all day despite having the heater on full blast. Once I got moving I felt a bit better, and by the time I reached Catford I wasn't feeling too bad. I had made a plan to meet Iain to let him try my new media player (that I can't use) with a view to him buying it off me. The best place to meet was obviously in a pub, and that's what we did. Such is the power of beer as a healer that I felt really wonderful as I made my way home having consumed a mere two pints.
I am not going to any pubs tonight, but if I feel as rough this afternoon as I did yesterday afternoon I will be drinking a very large scotch when I get home. That may well be followed by a couple of cans of hot soup. After that I suspect I will have another very large scotch, and then I may well go straight to bed.
|Tuesday 10th November 2009|
| 08:03 GMT There
was no frost this morning, but
saturated with condensation. The sky has gone very cloudy again, and
although it will probably (hopefully) not rain today, there seems
little prospect of any sunshine. Curiously enough, although the day
obviously started warmer (no frost), it is going to be cooler today
than yesterday. Some say, not that I choose to believe them, that today
will be no warmer than 9° C.
I received my second shirt from Asda yesterday. That completes my order with them, and I doubt I will ever be ordering anything from them again ! This second shirt, in a different style to the first one, is the most beautiful shade of purple, and the material feels quite silky. Once again, the collar size is very generous. The chest size is perfect. The sleeves are long and wide enough, and the overall length is perfect, but once again it is insanely tight across my gut. Just what bloody shape are the people who shop in Asda stores ? Evidently they are a different shape to those who shop in Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Primark, and other places I have bought perfectly wearable shirts from. It's madness I tell you, MADNESS !
I went to bed only slightly early last night, but I still woke up at what would have been a good time if the clocks were still on BST, or an hour early now the clocks are on GMT. I did dream last night, but not as vividly as the night before. All I can remember from my dreams was that it was a hot sunny day, but I can't remember where I was, or what I was doing. When I woke up I felt both hot and cold. It was very cold in my bedroom, which is how I prefer it except once I am out of bed getting dressed. Under the duvet I sometimes felt a bit cool depending on where I rolled, but strangely my legs felt a bit damp and sweaty as if I had been walking very hard. I did wonder if I had a fever or something, but soon after going downstairs I took my temperature and it was corpse like at 35.3° C. That's possibly one of my lowest reading ever, and maybe an indication that it is soon time to go into hibernation for the winter.
This morning I am glad to say that my rotten backache that plagued me all yesterday to one degree or another, is much better. My back still feels a little stiff, and there is much more stiffness in my legs this morning, but overall I am a lot more comfortable than yesterday. I had hoped that some walking, as I came to work, and some warmth would mostly sort out my back yesterday, and it did help, but not as much as I would have hoped for. If I can get the same improvement today as I got yesterday I should almost be back to normal tomorrow. Of course normal is a very relative term. It's winter, therefore I ache ! (As Homer once said - Homer the Greek, or Homer Simpson - probably the latter !)
|Monday 9th November 2009|
| 08:24 GMT Today
marks the first time that I have seen a
layer of frost on the cars as I made my way to the station. In Catford
there was a thin mist lurking in a few places, while in central London
there was only some distant haze. As my train approached Earlsfield
station I was hoping to see the sun rising above the cemetary, but all
I could see was the cemetary swathed in a very atmospheric looking
thick mist (almost fog). I think the sky is essentially clear, but the
mistiness is now blanketing the whole sky. Once that mist burns off it
could be a sunny day.
Yesterday remained dull and damp all day, but I don't think there was any significant rain. While sitting in the semi-gloom I managed to catch the weather forecast for the week ahead. Apparently we, here in London, should be lucky in getting some fine weather up to almost the end of the week when it will turn wet and windy. I can't remember which day it was forecast for, but one of the days in the early part of this week should get almost warm with a temperature up in the dizzying heights of 14° C. Well, it's not quite t-shirt temperature, but probably not too bad this late in the autumn.
I watched a lot of TV yesterday - some of it broadcast, and some from the DVD player. It was probably all that sitting around that has left my lower back, hips, and maybe even my groin, feeling quite uncomfortable this morning. Like most of my aches and pain it is improving now that I have done some exercise (as you could call commuting).
I don't know if apparently sleeping awkwardly last night was caused by, or part of the cause of all this aching. What I do know is that it gave me some vivid dreams. In one dream I was merely an observer, or pasive viewer. I could have been watching a TV programme, or maybe I was writing the story or something, but I am sure I contributed nothing to the action taking place in my dream. I am going to have to use my imagination to fill in a few blanks in this description, and then write it as a narrative rather than strain my brain trying to describe exactly what I saw.. The dream was about the moon and spaceships. The Americans had been planning for years to send two more men to the moon. With just a couple of weeks to go before launch someone decided it would be a "jolly wheeze" if the British could send up a robot camera to picture the moon landing. So a spaceship was cobbled together out of bits and pieces, in typical English fashion, and successfully launched just after the American spaceship was launched. It quickly passed the Americans to arrive on the moon in plenty of time to send video back of the Americans landing.
It was rather strange to write that down. The "story" is exactly how I remember it, but all I can recall seeing is just very brief snatches of the action, and as I said I was just a passive viewer. One explanation is that my dream was actually in a different setting, and it was within the dream that I was imagining that story sequence.
The other dream, or sequences of dreamlets, was entirely surreal, but I was definitely me in it/them, and I was doing stuff in the first person. In circumstances that happened before the dreams beginning I had been given a large house. It would turn out to be a very, very, stupendously large house. Initially it was set in one room that I adopted as my bedroom-cum-living room. The room was sometimes small, and sometimes big. Behind my bed there was a lot of water damage to the ceiling and wall, and it turned out that this room was actually in an extension of the house, and the seal between the main building, and the extension was not very good. While the water did not drip on my bed I was quite happy about this situation, but I had advertised for a lodger whose rent would pay to repair the water leak. A potential lodger was introduced to me in my room (which seemed to have grown a bit) by someone who seemed familiar, but was probably supposed to be an estate agent. I quickly found out that this potential lodger was related (possibly the son) of someone who I tend to regard as almost an enemy (in real life). I didn't want him too near me so I started to think of what room to put him in. While I tried to imagine the layout of the house it continually grew. With the lodger now out of my mind, and the size of the house expanding with it, I went out exploring with the estate agent. The house was now so big that it had an old preserved tube carriage in the front room, and even had a couple of rooms that were my own private, fully sized, and fully featured pub ! It was while trying to gain access to the (pub) cellar that the dream ended as I woke up.
Today I think I am going to have a rummage in the dumpster here at work. I hope that I find that someone has carelessly thrown away several (tens of) millions of pounds because I fancy buying a house like that in my dream. Many men dream of running a pub, but in my dream someone else runs the pub, but it is still mine, and because it is in my house I can allow smoking in it it just like in every other room in my house !
|Sunday 8th November 2009|
GMT It is not actually raining
this morning, well not at the moment it is not, but it is very grey and
damp outside. I think it will rain sometime today though. It hasn't
always been like this. Yesterday was mostly bright and sunny, and took
a lot of imagination to reach this conclusion, but it was almost warm
Friday night was not warm, nor was it sunny, and nor was it dry. There were copious amounts of rain, although fortunately it was not torrential rain. After work I met up with Iain for what should have just been a couple of quick pints before going to do a little shopping in Tesco.
The dark and the rain made me feel quite depressed, and the only cure was to have four pints instead of two. That actually worked quite well. When we left the pub the rain had either stopped, or was sufficiently light to be ignored in my happy drunken state. Tesco's looked a bit busy so I abandonded the idea of doing any shopping, and poor old Smudge had to make do with a tin of pilchards for her supper. Did I say poor old Smudge ? That poor deprived cat is now wondering why she can't have pilchards every night !
I had to suffer too ! With little food easily available indoors (i.e. not frozen solid in the freezer) I had to resort to a Chinese/Thai takeaway (delivery). Mindful of how delicious the crispy fish dish I had the week before I ordered the same again, and one other fish dish. I was not disappointed. Both were orgasmically wonderful !
Yesterday Aleemah visited. We had an unusually good time together. The only disappointment was that she brought the film "Gattaca" over for us to watch. It is quite a good film, but I had only watched it a couple of weeks ago, and it was a bit too early to watch it again.
Friday also saw a couple of disappointments in addition to the lousy weather in the late afternoon/evening. I had ordered a couple of shirts from Asda, and only one was delivered. I assume the second is still on it's way, although why they should split the order is a mystery. Further disappointment followed when I tried the shirt on when I got home. It seems to be a bit of a strange shape shirt. The collar, chest, and sleeve sizes are great, even generous, but it seems to taper in around the gut. I think I am going to have to lose an inch around my gut for it to be a comfortable fit.
The final disappointment on Friday was the arrival of my Hisense media player. I was impressed with the speed of delivery, and I am still impressed by the capabilities of the unit, but I am not impressed that it has no option for a standard 625 line (or 525 line NTSC) output. There was no way I could get a recognisable picture on my workbench monitor, but when I tried it on the companies 42" high definition plasma TV it looked really good. So it is really no good for my 15 year old Sony TV here at home. That Sony TV still has a lot of life left in it yet, and it will be some time before I'll need to dig my hand deep inside my pocket and buy a new modern TV. Until then there is still the alternative media player that I am expecting to get sometime during the week, maybe tomorrow, from one of the guys at work. That player is an original Xbox, and already has Linux and a media player application loaded on it. I believe it will do virtually anything the more modern player will do, but with the great virtue of being designed from the outset to work with a standard TV for the display.
|Friday 6th November 2009|
GMT Last night was bonfire/Guy Fawkes night, and
tradition this morning should either have been foggy, or frosty
(sometimes both). It is neither frosty of foggy, and in fact it is a
bit milder than recent mornings. It is very cloudy though, and
everything was drenched with either rain or condensation when I left to
come to work. The sky right now is an unbroken mid grey mass, and I
think it will probably rain soon.
The weather has been a bit unusual in the second half of this year, and maybe we'll have a white Xmas because of that. Some would blame all this on global warming (or climate change as it now likes to be known), but that is just stupid. The weather we have had this year has been entirely within the range of normal weather for London - maybe with one small variation. Back in the 1960's the summers were far better, and mid July to the beginning of September was always hot, bright and dry. I am sure that just because those 6 weeks happened to coincide with the school summers holidays could not possibly cloud my judgement in any way, shape of form, and the great storm that almost blew the caravan into the sea while on holiday in 1967 must have happened at some other time of year !
My thoughts have recently returned to an idea I have had kicking around inside my skull for several years now. That idea is for a "media server" for my living room. The name "media server" is possibly a bit of a misnomer, and the name "super, duper, amazing, media player" may be more apt, and I shall try and just stick to "media player" now.
My thoughts about a media player were re-kindled when I read a review about the Hisense 1080p media player. It seemed to be a quite neat little box, and better than using an old PC rattling away in the corner. One neat option that is better than an old PC is an old Xbox games machine. These can be modified to play all sorts of stuff, and have the great advantage that they were designed to work with a TV from the outset. Yesterday I was offered one for free that already has some special software installed to be a media player. I should be getting that next week, and I look forward to seeing how it works, but before that I have ordered a "HiSense 1080p Media Player", and it should be here today.
Tonight I need to get some shopping in. The most important thing to get is catfood. I have a very hungry cat at home ! She does have food, but it seems it is not this weeks flavour ! I imagine that when I get home, some, if not all, of the food I put down before coming to work, will actually be eaten, but from the looks Smudge gave me this morning I might as well have put poison down for her ! To get to Tesco, where I'll be shopping, I have to go perilously close to the pub. I do wonder if I'll be able to avoid going in there !
|Thursday 5th November 2009|
| 08:03 GMT I
think there was a fair
amount of rain overnight. It was very wet when I left for work, but it
wasn't raining. I got the early train, and so it wasn't until I was
approaching central London that it was bright enough to see that the
clouds were quite well broken with large chunks of blue sky visible.
There was even some golden sunshine to my left as my train headed
approximately south between Waterloo and Earlsfield. Since arriving at
work I can still see a lot of blue among the clouds, but it seems very
dull outside. More rain is forecast, and the temperature will struggle
to reach 13 or 14° C today, but the overnight cloud means that this
morning started off a degree or two warmer than yesterday morning.
I felt quite good at work yesterday. It was probably because I had eaten very lightly the previous evening (after a rather a lot earlier in the day). Last night I had a very unhealthy dinner as I used up some scraps and stuff on, or near it's use by date. So this morning I feel fairly bloated and lethargic. I also get the impression I am going to feel tired soon. I shouldn't do because I was in bed quite early last night, and I did sleep well, but I did wake up earlier than I desired.
It did very little (except cook and eat) last night. It was already night when I got home from work, and that seems to make the evenings shorter than they are. Once the news had finished on TV I switched off the TV, turned off the lights and heating in the front room, and went into the back room to do some stuff on my PC. The principle thing I did on my PC, once I had got myself into the right frame of mind, was to pay my credit card. Generally speaking I hate paying bills. It's not the parting with the money bit I hate, but just some sort of reluctance to mess about with bits of paper, envelopes etc (or on the phone). For another unknown reason it does seem less painful paying my credit card online. For one thing I don't have to wait for the statement to come through the post. So I transferred some money, and now I don't have to worry about anything for another month.(Except my main bank balance is smaller now, and once again I'll have to be careful towards the end of the month).
|Wednesday 4th November 2009|
| 08:05 GMT Even
before it was light, and without having
to wait until my eyes adjusted to the dark, it was obvious that the sky
was very clear. For one thing it was very close to cold enough for a
frost, and secondly there was a brilliant, possibly full, moon shining
down from the heavens. The moon appeared to be so bright that even
against the later bright blue sky it seemed to dominate the sky over
This bright and sunny morning seems at odds with how I believed the weather would be. As far as I can remember there was supposed to be torrential rain today. Some parts of south east England did experience some pretty severe weather yesterday, but London, or at least where I was, stayed fairly bright and sunny, although there was some rain in the morning. Maybe the torrential rain will happen this afternoon. It is a pity that two factors conspire to stop things warming up this morning. Obvioulsy the sun is very weak at this time of year, but the wind, not that there is much of it right now, is blowing in cool air from the west.
I didn't get around to writing anything yesterday. I guess I had too many distractions. One distraction was finding, and then reading up on Free Basic. As it's name implies it is totally free, and it is a compiler that is very similar to Microsofts Q-Basic (or GW-Basic). Basic (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is the one computer programming language that I managed to Master. I started off with ZX-Basic on my Sinclair ZX81 and finished with Q-Basic on a PC. One problem that is not often mentioned when it comes to programming is that it is very useful to actually have some particular project in mind. Nothing focuses the mind like having some end goal to achieve. Without that goal the hardest part of programming is actually to try and think up some reason to do it in the first place.
I do have a sort of goal, although it is of the absolute minimum (or even zero) priority. Much earlier this year I started to write some control software to use here at work. It was really only for my own amusement, but it could still have been useful. Initially I tried to use it as the basis of learning the C programming language. I did learn a bit, but I quickly became frustrated because it all seemed so alien to me. I then transferred to writing the program in Asic, and started to achieve some results. Unfortunately my programme became so big that I must ahve reached some sort of limit, and it refused to compile. Work is pretty quiet at the moment, and I may have time to resume my programme using Free Basic.
|Monday 2nd November 2009|
| 08:12 GMT This
morning there is a trade off between the
the bad when it comes to the weather (does that actually make sense ?)
The sky was perfectly clear, as far as I could see, when I left home to
come to work. With the sun just about peeping over the horizon, and
fully risen by the time I reached Waterloo (perhaps a little earlier),
it made for a nice bright sunny commute into work. The downside is that
the clear skies earlier in the night allowed a lot of heat to escape
into outer space. It was definitely chilly this morning, but the lack
of frost means there is far worse to endure as we continue to plunge
into winter. To make matters worse we have lost the warm air that was
blowing up from the south, and now the weather is becoming dominated by
far cooler, and wetter air blowing in from the west. Northern parts of
Enland have had some severe wet weather, and apparently it could be
London's turn later in the day tomorrow. Meanwhile we'll just shiver
under bright blue skies, and weak watery sunshine.
Yesterday was not that exciting. I didn't go out at all, not even to the corner shop. I kept thinking that I ought to go out and get some shopping, but I seemed to remember that I had an apple here at work for my lunch, and it was buying fruit that would have ben the most important bit of any shopping that I could have bought yesterday. I am happy to report that my lunch today will be twice as big as I thought it would be. Not only is there an apple in my drawer, but a satsuma as well !
I did carry out Saturday's threat to research a bit more about Xenix. I found some interesting information, but I also found something else. As a distraction I had a look at some old backup disks dating back to 2002. Some of those old CD's are amazingly still easy to read, and I do have a pretty comprehensive set of backups from the last time I was using Windows as my main PC. The operating system was the much derided Windows ME, and somehow it must have just loved the hardware I was running it on. While everyone else was moaning about frequent crashes, and that in turn became the main rallying point for people to switch to Linux, my installation seemed rock solid and almost bullet proof. It was pretty weird really, and even more so when later attempts to use Windows ME have resulted in all the crashes etc. that everyone else used to moan about.
Amongst all those backup disks I found a few files that were worth remembering, and although I was not looking for them, I also found the complete set of files I remembered having for the ancient Xenix operating system. One problem with Xenix is that there were many different versions for different system architectures. The files I have are for Intel 286/386 processors in standard "IBM" PCs. One little problem with the files I have is that they are in the form of disk images, and in particular 5.25" floppy disks. If I were mad enough to attempt to try and use these files I am fortunate enough to have a working 5.25" floppy disk drive attached to an old 486 PC, but a further complication may be that my drive is a low density drive whereas some of the disk images may be for a high (or double) density drive.
There are ways around this floppy disk image problem, and I was insane enough to take a few tentative towards a possible solution. Many virtual machine, or machine emulators, have the ability to work directly from disk images, and I think that Qemu has some advantages that could be useful if I was so desperate to pass the time of day that I actually did attempt to get a virtual Xenix machine working. Of course that will never happens ! Or will it ? If nothing else, it's nice to know some of the possibilities out there.
This morning, before coming to work, and also nearly making myself late for work, I did something I have been wanting to do for ages. I have a little bit of software that displays the usage of my web server. To do this it analyses the web servers log files. Since moving over to my mkIII server there has been a minor problem to do this. Basically the analysis software was forbidden from reading the log files. On the previous server this was also a problem that my Linux Guru solved for me, but I didn't know how. So until this morning I had been manually changing the file permissions every so often so they could be read. This morning I finally did what I should have done ages ago and researched the problem on the internet. The answer turned up about 4 entries down in Google's search results, and the answer itself was stupidly simple to execute - but first you have to know that a particular configuration file actually exists. This has always been one of the problems of using Linux (in advanced ways), and I suppose there exists similar problems with Windows. If you don't even know something exists it is very hard to repair/change it !
|Sunday 1st November 2009|
GMT Like yesterday, the day started out wet.
it is still raining, and somewhat heavier, this late in the morning. I
thought that there might be some lighter periods, maybe even sunny
spells today, but now I feel rather more pessimistic about that.
Yesterday was not as boring as I thought it might be, but it was still fairly boring. To amuse myself I had a look at Gumtree. It wasn't the dating pages, but "items for sale", and in particular the computer section, and I paid particular attention to the PDA/handholds section of that. There is an advert in that section for a pair of Palm T|X pdas for just £30. I must admit I was tempted to buy them. I rather like my Palm T|X even though I rarely use it.
Thinking about my Palm T|X, I remembered I had read an article somewhere about how to run Linux on it. That was the start of a lot of playing that took many hours. Some detailed web searching revealed how to run Linux on it, and the files needed to do so. I downloaded the files and set about installing them on a flash memory cards that I would us in the Palm T|X. I used two cards with two subtly different versions of the Linux files.
I can confirm that Linux does run on my handhold, but not without some problems, and I think those problems are sufficient to say it was essentially a failed exercise. Apart from being a little unstable the main stumbling block, and one that was acknowleged on the various web sites that provided my original information, was that the wireless ethernet connection did not work. You can get around this by connecting via the USB cable, but that defeats the object of a hand held computer.
A second problem, but one that can be overcome by a lot of hard work and messing around, is that there are no multimedia codecs installed by default. So on the one version I tried that did have working sound, I could not even play mp3 files, let alone video files. It was an interesting exercise, but I think I'll continue to use the original operating system, Palm OS Garnet, 5.4.9.
I am not sure what I am doing today. With the weather being so bad I doubt I'll be going out, although two possibilities do spring to mind. In theory I should go out and buy some fruit to take to work, but I think I have an apple or two left at work which will do for Monday. Another thing I could do is to take a walk in he park with all my wet weather gear on. As yet I still haven't tried my waterproof over trousers out in torrential rain. The rain is not torrential right now, and it is little more than heavy drizzle.
I do have some ideas to amuse myself today, although one idea would need a lot, A LOT, of masochistic enthusiasm. I am pretty certain that I won't start the experiment, but somewhere I have some disk images of Xenix. This was Microsoft's version of Unix from the 1970's. Even though I can't see myself actually digging out any hardware to try and run it, I think I may do some more research about it. Other than that I think I will just fall back on reading and TV/DVD watching.