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February 2010
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My Diary/Blog For the Month of February 2010

Sunday 28th February 2010
18:30 GMT
  This morning started out dreadfully wet. The skies were grey and it just rained and rained and rained. Sometime during the afternoon the rain slowly petered out, but the clouds never thinned enough to let the merest ray of sunshine in. If the weather forecasters seaweed is to be believed, the clouds will continue to thin and tomorrow will be a sunny day. Unfortunately it will still be a chilly day like today, and we will have to wait until Thursday for the temperature to climb to double figures, but by then the rain will be back.

 Yesterday was, for the most part, bright and sunny. It also felt relatively mild too.  I finally managed to go for a drink yesterday after my prediction about not drinking on Friday night came true. The plan for yesterday was that I would meet Jodie for a couple of pints before coming back here so she could pick up the laptop I am giving her. What I didn't realise, although it was so predictable I wonder why I didn't realise it, was that she was off to another gig in the evening and didn't want to collect the laptop yesterday. So we had a couple of pints in the Weatherspoons and then she went on her way.

 The beer I had yesterday was both good and bad. The first pint I had was Brewster's "Ice Queen". This was a pale coloured ale that had a pronounced bitter taste that was not really to me liking. However, it did prime my taste buds to really appreciate my next pint. That next pint was from the Spinning Dog brewery, and was called "Mad Dog". After the bitterness of the Ice Queen it tasted of the most delicious caramel chocolate flavour. That only lasted for the first couple of mouthfulls, and after that it tasted just like a normal pleasant beer. I can imagine that if I had drunk those two beers the opposite way round, the Ice Queen would have tasted very unpleasant after the sweetness of the Mad Dog beer.

 If I hadn't been meeting Jodie I may have ventured out for some fresh air. Perhaps making that trip to Walton On The Naze that I have been promising myself. The weather was still not ideal for exploring, but it was probably the best we have had for a while now. Apart from the walk to the pub and back I didn't go out at all and I spent much of the day watching old episodes of Drop The Dead Donkey.

 It does seem rather strange that I am thinking that Drop The Dead Donkey was possibly the last funny situation comedy series ever made for TV.  I am sure that can't be right, but since then the only funny TV I can think of is the ongoing series of Top Gear, and Have I Got News For You. Neither of them count as situation comedy series, but at least they manage to raise  a good laugh from time to time. I know that there have been attempts to make other comedy series, stuff like The Office, or The IT Crowd (or whatever it was called) but neither grabbed my attention at all. Maybe there is something I am missing, but it does seem depressingly like I have to live in the past to get my kicks.

 I seem to have eaten very little (in quantity) of food today. That is not to say I haven't had an excess of calories or sugar. It could be that I saw Aleemah this afternoon ( and was distracted), or it could be the the result of eating too much yesterday, and to a very slightly lesser extent on Friday night, that I have moderated my food intake. Maybe it is just one of those things, but I think the previous over eating scenario is quite significant.

 On Friday night I was not feeling too happy. I had got into work deliberately quite early with the intention of leaving a bit early (or to leave early without the guilt of leaving early), but a last minute request for assistance meant that I actually left work late. To rub salt into the wound the next train was delayed by 10 minutes. It wasn't all that much of a disaster, but it was sufficient to trigger a plan I had been brewing for some while. There is takeaway, who have recently started doing home deliveries, in Catford who ntil Friday night I had not tested. They are a sort of hybrid grilled chicken and curry shop. The only way to fully appreciate what they had to offer was to order a rather huge takeaway and sample a good cross section of what they have to offer.

 What I ordered was a set family meal which seemed to include much of what was on their menu. It was expensive, but although I knew what I was getting I was still surprised as to how much there was of it. So I had a good, heart stopping, slap up meal on Friday night, and ate the rest for breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday.

 This morning it did feel like all my arteries were fully clogged, and my waistline had increased by 25%.  So today I didn't eat until I had one solitary sandwich with Aleemah, and then after she had gone home again I had just three more items to eat. One of those items was a raspberry cheescake, and it contained enough calories and sugar to keep me going for a week. After that I decided not to eat again until tomorrow, and unusually it is proving easy to do. Maybe it is all in the mind, or maybe that cheesecake has some magical filling properties. Apart from the effects of all that sugar I am expecting to feel reasonably good in the morning having avoided eating anything too bulky.

 It is unusual to see Aleemah on a Sunday, but we had a good time together. As usual, she brought over a DVD to watch. It was a movie I had seen at least once before, but this version was very different. It was the truly dreadful, but really good because it is so bad, Plan 9 From Outer Space. The original version is now so old that it is in the public domain and can be freely watched, or downloaded from here. What made the version we saw today so different is that it was a cleaned up and colourised version of the original black and white film. Some, who call themselves purists, but maybe are just snobs, say that artificially colouring a black and white film is a heresy, but I see nothing wrong with it in the majority of cases, and possibly in no cases at all. I rather enjoyed watching Plan 9 From Outer Space in artificial colour. It enhanced the viewing, and there was no way that colour could detract from the wooden acting, crap script, bizarre idea, bad acid trip inspired costumes, curious continuity, and general weirdness that makes the film a good laugh to watch. Besides the "entertainment" value of the movie itself, it was also fascinating to see just how good artificial colouring could be. I very much doubt that anyone who didn't know that it was originally shot on black and white film would ever realise that was the case. It was pretty impressive !
Friday 26th February 2010
07:58 GMT
  There has been no sign of the sun at all this morning. I presume the sun has risen because it is light enough to see without using artificial illumination. The clue to the lack of sunlight is the rain. It is not very heavy, some may call it drizzle, but it is most definitely persistent. Fortunately it is about 6 C outside, and that just tips the balance to "not too bad" outside. It would be nice if the temperature could rise to double figures as the day progresses, but apparently it will only rise by one degree at best. However it is possible that sometime later in the day we may catch a glimpse of the sun.

 Yesterday the sun stayed out for a fair while, and it became tolerable to go outside for a fag break in just my shirt sleeves. By 4 pm, or home time, the rain had got underway, and I guess it has been raining non stop since then. It seems quite likely that it will rain tomorrow too. That is a bit of a shame because I am not seeing Aleemah tomorrow, and if it was dry I could have gone out for a walk somewhere exotic. Although I am fully physically equipped with rain proof stuff, I am really only mentally equipped to deal with short summer showers while I am exploring. I am potentially missing out on a lot of fun (or something) by taking this attitude, but certainly in these winter months, or even end of winter months, if it is wet outside I just want to return to hibernation.

 I think I would have liked to hibernate this morning. It is very hard to describe how I feel. I have no specific maladies this morning, but I do seem to have a collection of very mild complaints. I almost, but not quite have a headache. My sinuses are almost, but not completely clear. It feels like I have enough trapped wind to be noticeable, but not uncomfortable. My chest seems slightly congested but not enough to make me wheezy. All these minor complaints are probably my bodies way of telling me that I should drink more beer. I haven't had a decent pint of beer for a couple of weeks now, and once again I forgot to have a "binge drinking"* amount of scotch last night (or any scotch at all).

* Her Majesties Government (or a bunch of useless pillocks who blame all societies ills on their own psychotic view of reality)

Maybe tonight some opportunity will arise where I can grab a couple of pints of beer in the pub, but I am not holding my breath. I know that Patricia is laid low with a cold. Iain seems to be keeping a very low profile, and Kevin probably won't be finished working and ready to go until past my bedtime. However [engaging optimism mode] something could turn up in the next 9 or 10 hours.
Thursday 25th February 2010
07:50 GMT
  For the second morning running I have seen the sun. There are plenty of puddles around to show that there was probably a fair bit of rain overnight, but the clouds seem to have broken up a bit since then. I left home in time for a quite sedate walk to the station to catch the early train. Although dawn was still some way off, the clouds were sufficiently thin in the east for the day to brighten early. The only catch in this situation is that more dense cloud seems to be moving in from the west. If yesterday is anything to go by it will soon be raining again.

 I think the temperature is slowly creeping up day by day towards the seasonal average. I think it was around 6 C when I left home this morning, and it could be 8 or 9 later today. I am almost making this up as I go along, but I think the seasonal average is probably a few degrees higher than that. Compared to not so ong ago the temperature now is not too bad. Smudge obviously thinks that today will be OK. She declined to answer my calls to come in before I left for work. I hope she can find some shelter for when the rain comes tumbling down later on.

 Yesterday saw quite a bit of variation in how the weather felt. For my first, and maybe second fag break I wore my warm jacket to go outside. Later on I had to wear my cagoule (with the hood up) because it was pouring with rain. Then the sun came out and I went out in just my shirtsleeves. It was actually a little too cool for shirtsleeves, but only just.

 The porting of my O2 mobile phone number to my Giffgaff sim card went OK yesterday. The whole procedure probably took under two hours from the time I noticed my O2 phone was flashing up "Invalid SIM" to where I was able to send and receive both calls and text messages on my smart phone using my old O2 phone number. Apart from paying the final bill, I have now effectively said goodbye to O2 apart from the ironic fact that Giffgaff use O2's network for their service. The whole process of getting a PAC code, and porting a number across to another provider is reasonable simple, and having done it once now I will have no hesitation in doing it again should I want to change providers again. The only real difficulty was getting the PAC code from O2, but I think that was just incompetence rather than anything malicious.

 I slept better last night, or perhaps I just didn't wake up with a head splitting nauseus headache like I did yesterday morning. I did not get to bed quite as early as I might have done, and I forgot to drink any scotch whisky last night (I had intended to), but I was still fast asleep a tiny bit before 9 pm. I did wake up several times during the night, and I was fully awake 40 minutes before my alarm was due to go off. I used that extra 40 minutes to convince myself to wash my hair this morning. Maybe I didn't use all that 40 minutes because I also left to get my train 30 minutes early.

 I don't feel too bad this morning - in relative terms. I did, and still do, have a very mild headache, but compared to the agonies of yesterday morning this current one is barely noticeable. Probably the worst thing is that I still feel very congested. My sinuses still feel full, and my throat/windpipe feels full of mucus. One strange thing this morning is that I felt I could almost run up the steps from the subway at Waterloo East station - and I almost did. It felt like I had a lot of power in my legs, but my knees did not fully agree with that, and the spirited effort I did make left me feeling quite wheezy for a bit. That may sound bad, but it is a definite improvement, but there is still along way to go until I get back to my level of psuedo fitness that I had before autumn started to curtail my exercise, and winter finished it off.
Wednesday 24th February 2010
08:46 GMT
  When I came out of Earlsfield station the sun was shining. I have no idea where it was shining from because there didn't seem to be any gaps in the cloud (with the huge scrum of people all trying to enter and exit the station through the same door at the same time I couldn't actually stop to examine the sky). That sunshine only lasted a few seconds, but it has been a fairly bright morning despite the clouds. I use the past tense because thirty minutes later it is now pouring with rain. It is also mild, and that is mild without having to stretch the meaning of the word. It is possible that the day started as high as 8 C, and top temperature is forecast to be at least 10, or even 12 if the very geographically vague, and very optimistic forecast in this morning's Metro newspaper is to be believed. Apart from the slightly higher temperature it is probably going to rain for most of the day like it did yesterday (and the day before).

 I am happy to report that the pain in my right elbow faded away soon after I wrote about it yesterday. By contrast I am unhappy to report that I woke up with the most stinking, migraine like, headache this morning. I have been getting a lot of headaches recently, and having resumed taking some of my blood pressure pills, I now think that it has nothing to do with blood pressure. My current theories include brain cancer, meningitus, beri beri, bubonic plague, radiation sickness, poisoning, being a victim of the nocturnal head basher, or after effects (probably time travel related) to my recent alien abduction. Other possibilities are sun spots, or disturbances in the Earths core caused by tectonic activity. One thing I can't blame it on is booze, unless it was a hangover delayed by 24 hours. Last night I didn't have any booze, and when I think about it, maybe that was the mistake I made.

 Today sees a major change in my mobile phone service - at least it should do. I have never done it before, but I asked (or demanded) my PAC code from O2 so I could carry my number over to my Giffgaff sim card. Giffgaff is the service provider who for a little while yet are not charging for any data services. While that is so it is a natural choice for my smart phone. I have been carrying two mobile phones with me for some time now. One is my regular phone on my very soon to expire O2 account. The other is my Android G1 smartphone on my Giffgaff account. Once the O2 number is transferred to Giffgaff I will only have to carry around one phone - which is quite sensible. Hopefully it will all go smoothly, although I note that Giffgaffs website has fallen over as  write this. I think it is from the 1st May that Giffgaff start charging for data services. If their charges are too high then maybe I'll have to go through this nail biting time again as I transfer my number to yet another service provider.
Tuesday 23rd February 2010
08:24 GMT
  I was hoping to write that is dry this morning, but while walking to Catford Bridge station there was some fine misty rain blowing around in the wind. For now though, that is the worst there has been, but the chances of heavier rain at any time today are quite high. I am not sure I can trust my senses, but I think it might just be very slightly warmer than yesterday, and by warmer I mean less bloody cold !

 Yesterday was a truly miserable day. It seemed to rain for most of the day. Sometimes it was very light, sometimes heavier, and as I walked home from the station there was a bit of sleetiness about the rain. According to The Weather Channel application on my Android phone, the temperature, taking into account the wet and wind, was supposed to make it feel like -1 C yesterday. I wouldn't like to put a figure on it myself, but it certainly felt wretched outside.

 I did feel pretty rotten yesterday. I ached in all sorts of places. I felt very tired, and whenever I went outside for a fag  felt frozen stiff. Today I feel a lot less bad mainly because I got a decent amount of sleep last night, but absense of rain, and possible slight rise in temperature have contributed a lot as well.

 I felt thoroughly (which I can't seem to spell just now) rotten when I got home last night, but I hatched a plan for what I would do earlier in the afternoon. I decided that I would have two cans of hot soup followed by the rest of my sausages all washed down with a very large scotch whisky. I followed that plan with only two small variations. I had a small tin of marrowfat peas with the sausages, and instead of a very large scotch whisky I had two very large scotch whiskies. By 7.30 pm I was in bed, and very soon after that I was asleep.

 I got woken up by a phone call sometime after 8 pm, and I woke up around 1 am for a pee. Apart from that I think I slept solidly until 4.20 am. Waking up so early was slightly irritating mainly because it was at the sort of time where trying to get any extra useful sleep is almost impossible. I felt quite awake at that time, and far better then the previous morning. I must get more of this sleep. It is good stuff !

 I think one of my main complaints this morning is a fairly rare one. I seem to have a slightly painful right elbow. It shares some characteristics with some of the knee and/or hip pains I was suffering from some time ago. The main characteristic is that the area that is painful is very loosely defined, and there no action, movement, or pressure that seems to make the pain better or worse to any great degree. It is just moderately painful - full stop. It doesn't stop me doing anything so I do my best to ignore it, but like an old wound it just very gently nags to remind you of it's still there.

 Tonight I am going to try to get to sleep by 8 pm again. Maybe I'll use some more scotch to help me get to sleep, but I think one large measure (equivalent to about 5 or 6 pub measures - at least) will probably be sufficient. Maybe I will also hit the cans of soup too. All that hot (mostly) liquid does feel filling, and makes me less inclined to cook up something with more fat and calories in. On the other hand, I do still have the lamb mince, I mentioned yesterday, still sitting unfrozen in the bottom of the fridge. I probably need to use that soon. So I maybe cook up my "pasta absurd "  tonight - if I have the energy and enthusiasm.
Monday 22nd February 2010
07:58 GMT
  With the temperature starting off a few degrees, maybe 4, above zero Celsius, instead of some minus number as we have experienced lately, you might be forgiven for thinking that this morning is not so bad. You would be wrong, very wrong ! It is pouring with rain outside. It has been since I let a very soggy cat in at 3.30 am, and it looks as if it will continue to rain until the whole world is submerged under a new planet wide sea............of with a little less hyperbole, for a few more days yet.

 Starting the day with the temperature above zero was sort of useful. When I went to shower and shave this morning I didn't have to stand there shivering until it was time to get under the hot water. Maybe one other useful thing is that if it were a few degrees colder the abundant rain we have now would have been more than abundant snow. That would have been nice and pretty, and of course it is dry (up to a point), but I feel it is now really time that spring was sprung. We have had a few tastes of it, and now I want the real thing. I want, no, demand, that the temperature rise to above 10 C, and that the rain confine itself to occasional April showers. Meanwhile, we have the March winds to contend with very soon.

 I didn't sleep well last night, and that, along with some of the reasons for it, has left a bit of a legacy of me feeling ill again this morning. Not so ill that I couldn't, or even didn't want to, come to work, but ill enough for me to gently suffer this morning, and possibly this afternoon too.

 One of the reasons for my feelings of malaise is that all my eating was wrong yesterday. I started off with my big brunch of sausages and potato wedges. Having had a big meal during the morning I decided against a big meal in the evening. Now that was a shame because I have some low fat minced lamb in the fridge that I had intended to use in making a pasta dish. I don't think what I was going to make actually has a name. It would be the bastard son of an unholy cross between a spaghetti bolognese, and some sort of lasagne. I was going to cook the lamb with herbs, spices (including a bit of chilli) and loads of tomato puree. Then I was going to mix the lovely thick, tomatoey (a new word for your spell checker) sauce with whatever pasta I have in the cupboard. Maybe I'll make it tonight and see if it is as good as my drooling imagination thinks it could be.

 So while I opted not to have a big meal in the evening, I didn't go without food at all. Far from it ! I had all sorts of stuff that added up to something far worse than if I had just had a big cooked meal in the evening. Amongst this stuff was some Cadbury's low fat chocolate trifle. They may have been lower in fat than some, but they still contained loads of bad stuff including concentrated sugar (probably - I decided not to read the label to avoid scaring myself !).

 In some ways yesterday was not a good day. I did very little all day, and that meant it was quite boring. I would have liked to have a snooze or two during the day, but my bunged up sinuses kept draining into my throat, and that caused me to start coughing and spluttering just as I was starting to drift off to sleep. The same effect kept me awake as I tried to get to sleep last night. It was well gone 10.30 pm when I finally got to sleep. Smudge did not help in the process of getting to sleep. At about 10 pm she had had enough of me rolling around spluttering away and announced that she wanted to go out. At that time it was dry outside, and I just shut the door behind her and went back to bed.

 I awoke again at 3.30 am. I think I awoke because I wanted a pee, but I am not sure. I had one anyway, and while standing in the bathroom I realised that it was raining quite heavily outside. Being a soft hearted sort of person I didn't go back to bed as I would on any other night. If I had I might have been able to resume my sleep as usually happens, but I went downstairs to let a very soggy cat in. While I was up I gave her a plate of food, and then I went back to bed. I did manage a bit of sleep, but mostly I just tossed and turned, and coughed a fair bit.

 All this means that I feel tired this morning, and by this afternoon I may well be falling asleep at my desk. Then my irregular eating yesterday means that my blood sugar level, and quite probably my blood pressure level is too high. Yet despite that I woke up feeling hungry with a growling stomach. I bought a "spicy chicken tikka" roll on my way into work this morning, and that has stopped my stomach growling, but now, having eaten, I feel like a lay down and a sleep.

 Before I go to bed tonight, which I think will be very early tonight, I have one important task to do. I may have mentioned that the processor fan on my server has been intermittently screaming in agony. This morning, just as I started to transfer some files onto the server, the processor overheated, and the server failed. When I opened the case I found the fan was almost siezed solid. Fortunately I had a spare handy, although it was not in exactly first class condition. I turned off the power to the server and quickly put on the spare fan using one and a half screws ( one screw would only do up half way) instead of the more usual 4. To my relief, the server started up OK again, and the emergency fan is working well enough for now. Tonight I must do a better job of fitting the fan. That means that at some point I might have to take my web pages offline for a little while, but I hope it should not be for very long.
Sunday 21st February 2010
09:30 GMT
  If there was any sleet or snow last night I was unaware of it. Sometime before 7 am it definitely started to rain, and it is grey and drizzly right now. From horizon to horizon the sky is just one momogenous mass of miserable grey, and it looks like it will rain forever. On a slightly more positive note, it is several degrees warmer than yesterday morning, and by stretching my imagination a lot I might even describe it as mild.

 I did hear from Aleemah after she got home yesterday evening. She informed me that up in the far reaches of north London, where she lives, it was snowing. Maybe I'll find out later today if it was just a few soggy flakes of snow, or if she is now buried under 6ft drifts of snow.

 I feel slightly rough this morning, and I think it is still some after effects of the cold I had a week ago. Last Monday, after suffering for some the previous weekend, and the Thursday and Friday before that, I reported that I was actually feeling quite good. I am now wondering if that was good relative to how bad I was previously. What I am suffering from recently is bunged up sinuses. It probably started last Tuesday, got a little worse by Wednesday, and since then has not really changed. It's not the irritating dripping nose that characterised the cold I had, but a slow accumulation of very thick, hard to shift mucus. On occasions I have to resort to certain ways of clearing my nose that are not pleasant (try a wiki search for snot rocket if you want the gruesome details).

 This slow blocking of the nose is probably causing me to commit that most hideous of crimes - snoring ! I have no evidence that this is happening except that I have woken up feeling pretty rotten over the last few days. My mouth has felt like the bottom of a parrot cage, and I have a headache. The headache could be caused by extremely high blood pressure, or it could be oxygen starvation to the brain (or both). I think I will feel a lot better when I no longer have to expel something like a light greenish yellow blancmange from one or other nostrils once an hour or so.

 With that unpleasantness over there is very little else to write about. Very soon I am off to do some shopping in Tesco, and I find that I have an irrestistble, or even irrational urge to buy some sausages for breakfast. This isn't the first time I have had this urge to eat sausages. It is a fairly rare urge, and as such probably signifies something. What that something is will probably remain a mystery, but I don't care - I am just going to enjoy my sausages !
Saturday 20th February 2010
17:38 GMT
  I woke up this morning to a thick white frost. This was caused by the sky being very clear. As the sun rose we were treated to a brilliany sunny morning, and it stayed sunny for much of the day. It also stayed rather cool as well, but now, with the sun just below the horizon, the clouds are getting thicker and thicker. It is possible that there could be a dusting of snow overnight, but it won't amount to much, and I think that any snow will progresively turn to sleet, and then rain by day break. Then the rain will probably continue through the day.

 Of course I could be wrong, very wrong maybe, about the rain tomorrow. Maybe it will be another bright day like today, and like yesterday was. Yesterday did get off to a patchy start. After just having written that the sun had come out it promptly went back in again ! Eventually it did break through and the rest of the day was nice and bright. The sun prompted me to once again force myself out for a walk around the park. This time the walk went properly, and I didn't get abducted by aliens !
The real route around the park
 This time the map shows the correct route I took, but there is still one anomoly in the data. The graph below the map shows I started at an elevation of 100 metres, and finished the walk at an elevation of just over 60 metres. Considering that the start point was also the end point it is a little mysterious as to why the ground rose 40 metres while I was walking. Perhaps it was techtonic activity, or something to do with global warming !

 Although I was not keen to start walking, overall I did enjoy the walk in the sunshine. It's just a shame that it didn't burn off as many calories as, let's say (but with no idea what I am talking about), a packet of crisps. Well, even if it was not very useful at burning calories, it was still another three quarters of a mile walking practice, and eventually I will feel fit enough again to do long walks along the beach - I hope !

 This morning I got up twice. The first time would have been early for a work day. The second was a little late even for a Saturday (by my standards, but maybe still incredibly early compared to the standards of one or two other people I know). In fact the second time was around 8 am. Maybe I would have liked to stay in bed a little longer, but I had a lot of work to do to make the place a bit more presentable for Aleemah, who visited me today. It was almost like hard work as I rushed around doing this and that, but I was pleased with the results in small selected areas ofg the house. Of course other areas will need several thousand more man hours to look half presentable ! Perhaps when spring finally arrives...................
Friday 19th February 2010
08:30 GMT
  The weather forecasters said that there would be more sunshine today, and in the last 20 seconds I can confirm they were right ! As I came into work my experience of the weather was that it was cold, and there was some light raindrops floating around in the breeze. As I arrived at work I noticed that the previously thick heavy cloud was thinning and breaking up. That was nearly half an hour ago, and now I can see a lot of blue sky, and for just a few moment the sun was shining.

 It seems the sunshine is going to do very little for the temperature today. I didn't feel it should be all that cold this morning. It's hard to explain, but my brain, perhaps taking cues from the light, or smell, or something entirely different, kept trying to convince me it was not very cold. Maybe it was just "all in the mind", but the signals I was getting from my almost numb hands, and the stinging on my face, disagreed with my wishful thinking - a lot !

 Last night I had a fairly big fish and mainly green vegatable stew for my dinner. Had that very healthy meal been all I had to eat I might have felt better this morning. I also had a couple of rolls, and some digestive biscuits. I am not sure if that was really enough to make me feel so bad this morning. It may have been more down to sleeping badly. All I know is that I woke up feeling stiff and with a migraine type headache. The chances were it was not migraine but high blood pressure. It certainly felt like I was going to blow a gasket during my journey to work, but with one exception.

 As I walked from the station to work I decided to walk more sedately than usual. I found it a quite easy going, and almost, but not really, pleasurable. The very weird thing is that it seemed to take hardly anytime longer than my usual fast walk. In fact I arrived at work a tiny bit earlier than I expected. I think, but I can't really be sure, that I lengthened my stride to compensate for the slower action of my legs. It is probably the gait I use when going for a long relaxing walk along the beach, and when I still seem to travel at  3 mph (which I believe is close to the sustained average of many people, and not the 5 mph which most people only use in short bursts - probably).

 I was hoping that I might see Patricia tonight, but she is far too busy. That's is a disappointment, but also quite useful. I very much doubt if I will do any tonight, but I have lot's of housework to do before Aleemah visits tomorrow. Even if I don't get around to making a start on some hoovering, I will, hopefully, get myself enough rest and relaxation to be able to a bit of frenzied housework in the morning. One other handy thing about not seeing Patricia is that I will have time to get all my shopping for Saturday done tonight, and not have to worry about rushing out to Tesco in the morning.
Thursday 18th February 2010
08:28 GMT
  Compared to yesterday, this morning is a bit of a disappointment. Instead of sunshine it is frosty, grey and misty. There was no sign of any sunrise this morning, and now, over a full hour after sunrise, the sky is 100% milky grey. It is more than likely that there will be some rain today, and it is more than likely that it will not get anywhere near how close it came to being warm yesterday.

 Yesterday was a glorious day. There was very little wind, and that helped to foster the illusion that it was warm during the afternoon. It was still some way off being warm in reality, but it did come close to it, and I suspect the temperature did rise to the 8 that my morning paper forecast with more optimism that I thought warranted at the time.

 It was so nice yesterday afternoon that I forced myself to go for a walk around the park during my lunchbreak. I didn't really feel like doing it, but I knew that I shouldn't waste the sunshine, and what's more I really need all the practice I can get for when the day finally comes that I resume some of my rambling/exploring/beachcombing etc. It was an interesting walk, made more so by being abducted by aliens half way through it.
GPS track of alien abduction
 What the aliens didn't know was that I was recording my walk on my mobile phone. The screenshot above shows where I was taken, and shows some of the figures involved. There is more data on my mobile phone.In the blink of an eye I was transported 9 miles away to an altitude of 6 miles at over 900 mph. Using advanced technology, the aliens blanked the abduction from my mind, but I expect I was anally probed, and had the traditional tracking unit planted somewhere in my body. ( I believe that somewhere up the nose is a common place). I wouldn't be surprised if I also fathered a clutch of human/alien hybrids by making love with a beautiful alien space babe, and it's not remembering that encounter that makes blanking my mind such an assault on humanity (unless of course she was not the usual beautiful alien space babe, but a hideously betentacled slimy space ogress - in which case I am thankful that my mind was blanked.

 All the probing and the rest of the unpleasant and pleasant experiences probably took a few hours, but by using time reversal technology, or something, I was returned back to my starting points within a few milliseconds of first being abducted. It was certainly a life changing experience for me. I don't think I will ever be able to pass that spot in the park again without thinking of the beautifual alien space babe that I can't remember. Many people would say al this was just a GPS glitch of the same sort that makes car drives follow their sat-nav off a cliff edge, and lorry drivers turn up narrow footpaths, but we believers know better. It was definitely the work of greys, or cybermen, or daleks, or........................

 In other good news, I lugged my recently aquired (from the skip) combination printer and scanner home last night, and gave it a quick test to see how well it worked when using Linux. I am happy to say it worked very well indeed. I couldn't be bothered to set it up on my main PC so I just plugged it into my netbook while comfortable lounging on the settee. That netbook is running Linux Mint 7. Before plugging in the printer I used the package manager to install hplip and xsane. The former can be thought of as drivers, and the latter is to control the scanner half. Having installed those packages I plugged in the printer and was surprised to see a pop up saying the printer was recognised and ready to be configured. The default configuration was fine, and the test page it offered printed out perfectly. After printing I checked the scanner. I have never had a scanner recognised by Linux before, but this one was recognised, and my test scan went without a hitch. I think  am very happy with my new toy, and if anyone ever asks me for a recommendation of a printer and scanner for use under Linux I would have no hesitation in recommending a HP PSC1210.
Wednesday 17th February 2010
08:46 GMT
  HOORAY ! The sun is out this morning ! Having said that, it does seem to be getting a little cloudier now, but it was sunny for most of my journey into work, and the weather forecast on TV last night promised a lot of sun with temperatures soaring to 7 C if there is enough sunshine. My morning paper was even more optimistic with a forecast of 8 C. It's now fingers crossed that we get the sunshine promised to us.

 Yesterday was a bloody awful day. Some reports said that a fortnights worth of rain fell in just the one day. It left me feeling miserable, and that meant that I ate something I am not proud of last night. It was a large portion of caramel shortbread. It was nice, but contained far too much sugar. It was not a good evening to go shopping last night !

 The new ink cartridges for my "new" printer turned up yesterday, and I wasted no time in fitting them and testing the printer. To my relief (after spending 32 on ink) the printer worked well. It was not quite as good as my ancient Epson Stylus 640 printer when it came to rinting out an A4 sized photograph, but it was a hell of a lot faster. The main difference in quality is that the "new" HP printer seems to leave some very feint, very fine, noisy looking horizontal streaks all down the picture. That's not really an adequate description of the effect, but it's the best I can come up with for now. It may just be the new cartridges need a little more time to bed down, or it could have been on the picture that I printed (some sort of camera artifact). Happily it is only noticeable under close scrutiny.

 The big disappointment with the printer is that it is too big to go in my back pack. So I didn't take it home last night. Instead I took home my mini media centre PC that I had brought here to work on Monday to show off (mainly demonstrating Xbmc and the BBC iPlayer plugin). That PC only just fits in my back pack, and it is a bit of a lump to carry around. On my way home from work I was debating whether to do my shopping with the big lump on my back, or to drop it off at home first. When I reached Catford I was a little surprised to realise how light it was despite the clouds and rain. On that basis I took the computer home, and while it was still light outside I went out to get my shopping. It was dark when I left Tesco, but the fact that it was light when I went in gave me some thoughts of optimism about the lengthening days. It's a shame that little bit of optimism did not override my general pessimism about the clouds and rain, r maybe I wouldn't have bought that very naughty caramel shortcake.

 I don't think it was the caramel shortcake, but my guts felt uncomfortable this morning. Although the caramel shortcake could be the cause of a certain lack of energy I was suffering from. With my guts in an unpredictable state I was not that happy that my train was delayed getting into London Bridge. This was due to a fire near or on the railway in the New Cross area (the drivers excuse) or a fire near or on the railway in the London Bridge area (according to platform announcements at Waterloo East). Whatever the cause was it caused congestion in the London Bridge area, and eventually my train was diverted into platform 5 instead of 6.

 My guts never did anything unpredictable in the end, but I did make myself a little later for work by using the "facilities" at Waterloo. Although I suffered a certain amount of discomfort, and felt lacking in energy, I enjoyed my journey into work this morning. It was nearly all down to the sunshine often pouring into the train, but there was a little bonus at the end that provided the complete distraction from any ills or ailments. For over half the distance between Earlsfield station and work I followed the cutest little bum you can imagine. It belonged to a young lady aged, by my best guess, between her mid to late 20's, who had a marvellous head of long brunette hair. She wore a black leather jacket, very tight beige coloured trousers, and brown calf high boots with low heels. Now, does anyone know her phone number ?
Tuesday 16th February 2010
08:28 GMT
  Bloody horrible would be a mild way of describing the weather this morning. It is dull, grey, sunless, miserable, and pouring with rain. On top of that it is cold. It's not icy cold, nor is it bone numbingly cold, but it is too cold for the time of year, and I want it to be warmer. The weather forecasters predicted to be around 4 or 5 this morning, but say the average temperature for this time of year ought to be around 9 C. Even that's not wonderful, but it would still be a reasonable improvement on what we have now. It seems that if the forecasters who brought you global warming are right, then the rest of the week could be as bad as this morning.

 I stayed dry this morning by wearing my cagoule over the top of my warm jacket. It is reasonably comfortable doing that, but as every days passes I am ever more keen, maybe even desperate, for the return of days where I can just come to work wearing a shirt. I really don't like being wrapped up like some dribbling smelly baby (I don't like dribbling smelly babies either, but that's straying off topic). On a morning like this morning, if it was 10 degrees warmer I could have just slipped on my new  lightweight hooded bomber jacket, and travelled to work more comfortably.

 As I was coming to work yesterday morning, and while passing the skip, I thought to myself that it seemed to have been a long time since anyone had thrown out any interesting I.T. gear. A little later, when I popped outside for a fag at 10 am I found some stuff had been dumped. There was an 8 port D-Link ethernet hub, and an HP combined flat bed scanner and inkjet printer. Being a natural born scavenger I grabbed both and took them inside (after finishing my fag - naturally !).

 The ethernet hub, a D-Link DFE-808 doesn't actually exist according to D-Links various worldwide web sites, but it does work. Some internet searches made suggestions that it was actually a programmable switch, and maybe it is, but all I do know is that it has a couple of 25 pin d-sub connectors on the back to daisy chain several of these boxes, and has a dip switch on the back to set the identity of the box. It is highly unlikely that I would ever want to daisy chain another one of these boxes, and even more unlikely that I would ever find another to connect to. I am quite happy to use it as an ordinary 8 way hub, or I would if I actually needed an 8 way hub - which I don't right now.

 The HP printer was slightly dusty, but in otherwise good cosmetic condition. Unlike the other HP printer I found out by the skip, this one still had some ink in the cartridges. There was no black ink, but I did get a bit of colour out of it, and it seemed enough to prove the printer side worked, or will work with some new ink cartridges (that I have already ordered). The flat bed scanner also proved to be in good working order.

 Now the good thing about this printer/scanner is that, being made by HP, it is supported by Linux. HP have contributed a lot towards printing "drivers", and stuff for Linux, and it seems that the scanner function is also part of that contribution. Until now, mainly because it was previously uneconomic to specially buy a supported scanner for the very little I would make of it, I have never had a scanner that worked with any Linux installation. It seems that I have now. All I have to do is get the thing home. It's not all that heavy, and I think I can just about stuff it in my back pack, but it will still be cumbersome to have to lug it home with me.

 I may well lug it home tonight, but if I do I will have some extra problems. I need to go to Tesco on he way home tonight. I finished off the last of my shower gel this morning, Smudge is low on food, and I need some fruit to take to work tomorrow. Now I could do one of two things, I could stagger around Tesco with a huge lump on my back, or I could drop off the printer first. I think the first choice is possibly the lesser of two evils because once I get home after work I dislike going out again. However I'll just have to see what actually happens nearer the time.
Monday 15th February 2010
08:37 GMT
  I am sure it didn't feel so cold when I came to work this morning as it did the last time I came to work on Wednesday of last week. If my memory about last Wednesday proves incorrect then choose any other random day where I complained about it being very cold. Now the odd thing is that this morning it was obviously below zero. The cars had some frost on them, and the puddles were definitely covered with ice. It may be that I just feel quite good this morning, but it is more likely the lack of wind that made it feel warmer than frosty.

 Apart from the frost it is not a bad morning. There was a bright sunrise, and although there is a lot of cloud in the sky it is either quite thin and/or well broken up. There is a possibility that the cloud is now getting thicker, and that could mean some rain later, but for now it is not a bad morning.

 I don't know why I feel quite good this morning. It is certainly a relief, maybe even a novelty, not to have snot running down my nose, but there is more to it than that. Perhaps it is the elation that my smokers cough seems better after that cold and not worse as I feared it would be. Unrelated to either of those is the feeling that I have more energy than of late. The walk from Earlsfield station to work seemed easier, or smoother somehow. Maybe it is just a nice feeling to get out the house without making up an artificial destination to go to.
Sunday 14th February 2010
10:40 GMT
  The ever helpful, and occasionally almost accurate "The Weather Channel" application on my G1 Andoid smartphone says that it is 2 C and partly cloudy. In my reality it is very cloudy and drizzling ! I'm not sure about the 2 C, but I'm guessing it is more like 4 C. It is cold, but not numbingly so, and the water for my shower this morning was getting near to uncomfortably hot. The significance of the shower water being almost too hot is that it is dependent both on the inlet temperature of the water to the heater, and the water pressure. The water pressure seemed normal enough so I have to conclude that the water from the water main is less cold than it has been recently.

 Another clue to it being warmer than of late is that I have just had to turn off the heater in the upstairs front bedroom where I am writing this. It seems to have warmed the room up very quickly. As an experiment I have just opened up the window and I will see how long it takes for me to start shivering. This is not really a valid observation because I am wearing a long sleeve sweat shirt, but more importantly it is only recently that I came out from under my almost too hot shower.

 The good news is that I am at last feeling like I am over the worst of my recent cold. The only major inconvenience of the cold was the gallons of snot torrenting out of my nose. For the first morning since it started I haven't gone through several boxes of tissues in between getting my left and right legs out of bed. When I think about it, since coming out from under the hot shower I have only had to give my nose a good blow once or twice. I probably shouldn't get too excited though - I am now rapidly approaching my personal hay fever season. I am not sure what I am mildly allergic to, maybe some fungal spores, or perhaps the pollen of some of the earliest flowers of spring, but there is something in the air that gives me the mildest of sniffles. I think I only decided to suffer from it so as not to be left out of the club of those who really do suffer from hay fever in the summer months.

 I didn't hear from Patricia yesterday, and that came as no surprise, but in consequence I didn't go out at all yesterday. I passed rather a long time transferring files from old CDR (and DVDR) disks to my server where they are more easily "getatable" (or get-at-able ; feel free to suggest a better word, or better spelling than that !). This came about when I realised that there were chunks of my video collection that didn't appear when browsing for files on my Xbox. Several carefully collected TV series recordings had whole episodes missing that I knew I had on CDR disks. I haven't quite finished the process yet, and I am currently ripping a few of my DVDs to provide better quality versions than some of the older off-air stuff. No doubt the various licensing bodies would say this is heinous illegal piracy, but I would just call it laziness. It is so much more convenient to be able to sit back and select something to view from a menu instead of having to get up, select a disk or tape, take it out of the box, put it in the player, wait until the player has gone through it's motions, and finally press the play button. We live in a modern world, and we should be able to take advantage of these modern ways of doing stuff, and it ought to be legal to be a couch potato !

 I had better say goodbye now. Having just publicly admitted to copying a DVD I expect I will be soon whisked off by black helicopter to a Cheshire salt mine re-education camp where members of the media industry will take turns in beating me with wet towels. I just hope they allow smoking in those salt mines.
Saturday 13th February 2010
10:28 GMT
  I can't recall what any weather forecast may have said about the temperature, but it seems to have definitely improved. It was cloudy overnight (I think) and that has kept in a bit of the warmth. I would guess that it is now over 4 C and maybe closer to 6 C. There have also been some sunny spells this morning, although the sky does look quite cloudy still. The wind still carries a bit of a chill, but the suns rays are now starting to carry a bit of heat, and it may be possible that the day could end up feeling like it's at the comfortable end of mild if we do get more sunshine through the day.

 I finished writing yesterday saying that I was feeling very snotty, but hoping that some fresh air would help to clear my nose. I am happy to say that it did. I had very little trouble while I was out shopping, but soon after I got home again I started to feel all bunged up again, and my tissue usage crept back up to silly levels again.

 Later on I did start to dry up again, and that was good because I went out to meet Patricia for a drink in Lewisham. I left the house at 5 pm and found myself wheezing quite badly before I had even reached the bus stop. I am not sure if wheezing is actually the right description of what I was feeling. My chest was actually feeling quite sore as if I was really overworking it. It felt like I had run a marathon by the time I had sat down on the bus (which I had to run for about 15 ft to catch). When I arrived in lewisham, some 15 minutes later, I was almost feeling normal again, and didn't have any further chestiness all evening.

 I arrived at the pub a little early, and Patricia arrived a little late, so I had already drunk one pint before she turned up. I must have subsequently been drinking quite slowly because I only had two pints with Patricia, and yet we were in the pub for quite a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I think Patricia did too.

 It may be that I came home again feeling too happy. When I am feeling miserable I tend to eat more, and when I am happy I eat less. These are established facts, but I think I can add a variation to that. Like most people I like to celebrate a joyous occasion, and that's what I did. I had myself a one man party. I had already had my party drink, and I decided that I should get some party food (well, any excuse !). I had a perfectly good lamb stew that I had cooked during the afternoon, and just waiting to be reheated when I got home, but some inconsiderate person decided to get on the bus eating fried chicken, and that got me salivating for some too. So it was into the fried chicken shop by the bus stop, and enough chicken and chips to make me feel unwell later on in the evening.

 I went to bed quite late, and feeling quite stuffed. The worst aspect was that my nose was back to feeling stuffed up, and I was breathing through my mouth far too much. That made my mouth already dry from the alcohol and the salty food even drier, and at around 3 am I woke up feeling that my tongue was about to crack from dehydration. I sipped some drink, but it didn't seem to work. Then on top of that I had a mild hangover, and my guts felt very bloated. There was nothing for it but to get up, go to the toilet, and then go downstairs for extra drink. The only thing that seemed to get my mouth wet again was a pint of fresh orange juice. I stayed up for maybe a couple of hours, and during that time I consumed nearly a pint of diet coke as well. After going back to bed I only manged a couple more hours sleep before I was awake again and rushing to the toilet for a pee. I didn't seem worth going back to bed after that, and I stayed up.

 Both times when I woke up my nose was as stuffed as stuffed can be. Even now, quite a few hours later, it still needs regular attention, but it also seems to be slightly improving. I think if I had had a full eight hours sleep I would be feeling a lot better now, but I definitely don't feel up to running a marathon today ! Mostly it is just tiredness, but some of my feeling of malaise is probably still down to the last lingering effects of my cold.

 Feeling as I do raises a bit of a dilemna. There is still a tiny chance that I could meet up with Patricia again today. If she is feeling like it she has to collect a prescription from Lewisham hospital, and I suggested that if she does we have a quick meeting in the npark behind the hospital subject to the weather being reasonably OK. A few minutes ago the sun was out and meeting in the park would have been nice. As I write this the sun has gone back in again and it doesn't look so nice out there, but the sun could come out again at any time. I am now torn between hoping I do get a call from Patricia, and hoping that I don't. I would really like to see Patricia again, but I would also like to lie on my bed and read for a while before dozing for half the afternoon. In theory I could do both, but if I do fall into a deep sleep I may miss Patricia's call, and if she calls me at short notice it would be a painful struggle to throw off the bonds of sleep and get myself out of the door to meet her. With the chance of meeting being so slim I think I am going to take a chance and get into deep relaxation mode any minute now !
Friday 12th February 2010
10:44 GMT
  You could say that the weather is warming up, but we are only talking about a matter of a degree or so. This morning it is warm enough to rain instead of snow. It may be a close run thing though because it is still very chilly outside. At least I think it is. I haven't actually been outside for 36 hours now.

 I am off work sick with the common cold. In some ways it is not that bad, but it does mean that I need to keep a adequate supply of tissues at hand, and by adequate supplies I mean several crate loads ! When I phoned up work yesterday morning I told them I had a head cold, but at that point I just felt a bit rough, and I could feel the pressure inside my sinuses building up. I also had a bit of a headache. I don't think I realised at that point just how snotty I would become.

 The snottiness comes and goes. When I turned the computer on in the upstairs front bedroom to write this I had just come out from under a hot steamy shower. All that hot water and steam felt so wonderful that I didn't want to stop washing myself, but it's not the sort of thing you can do all day (unless you live in California where I believe some people now choose to spend the rest of their lives in a hot tub [sometimes making porn films, and sometimes not]).

 Not only did the hot water feel good, but the steaminess made my nose feel clear, and my throat non tickly. That effect is now wearing off, and my nose is starting to drip again, and my throat feel tickly. Other than that I don't feel too bad. At least I don't feel too bad when I am sitting, or lying down in a warm room. I have yet to try anything else, and so I am not sure how I would feel if I, for instance, went and did some shopping. Maybe I'll be finding out about that in the not too distant future.

 It must be some measure of how bad I must have been feeling yesterday that I did not go out to buy the latest edition of New Scientist magazine. It is probably another measure of how badly this cold affected me that I did not take the opportunity to eat far too much while being at home all day, and having little to do. That's not to say I didn't eat more than I probably should have, but just a lot less than I could have done. I existed on virtually nothing but sandwiches yesterday. I got through half a loaf of oatmeal bread. I didn't use any butter or margarine, and almost all the ingredients were low fat - which is good. What was less good was that I was using generous amounts of garlic mayonaisse instead of butter or margarine - and that's bad (but tasty).

 To amuse myself yesterday I did a fair bit of reading, had some snoozes, and did some experimenting on my PCs.  The experiments revolved around XBMC which is the application installed on the Xbox I use as my media player in my living room. Until yesterday I had only used xbmc on the Xbox, but now I have tried it on a Linux PC - and it works well. Today I might try it on a Windows PC (it also runs on Apple Macs). There was a deeper point than just trying it out on a PC, and that was to see how well an iPlayer plug-in worked to view (and listen to) BBC programmes. I am happy to report that it works very well, and it uses a better interface than the BBCs own iPlayer media interface.

 A lot of time has passed since I started writing (a lot of it spent doing some web searches for xbmc stuff), and now my nose is getting troublesome. I thought the snort of Otravine I had a little while ago might tame my drippy nose, but it seems not to have. Maybe what I need is some fresh air, although going out into the cold air would seem to be the opposite thing to do while suffering from a cold. Nevertheless that is what I think I will do soon.

 It would be rather good if some fresh air did help control my stuffy and dripping nose. Later on I am hoping to meet up with Patricia for a quick drink, and right now that doesn't feel like such a good idea. So I'll test the fresh air theory first by going out to buy New Scientist. If I can make it to the shops and back without leaving a trail of slime that a snail would be proud of I will feel more confident about going into Lewisham at 5 pm.
Wednesday 10th February 2010
08:49 GMT
  The days are getting longer ! Although there was still ~20 minutes to go before sunrise, it was practically light when I left the house to walk to the station. As I travelled into work I was treated by a glorious sunrise. From inside the warm train you could be forgiven for thinking it was like a spring morning, but the reality is that it is bloody cold outside. At least it feels that cold, but I think the temperature is a little above freezing (but not much !).

 As my train ambled along the sky looked to be about 50% clear. Where it wasn't clear there were dense, thug like, clumps of dark cloud. Ideally there would have been light fluffy clouds, but these clouds had all the menace of a brain dead skinhead who had been sniffing glue. I think those clouds are just full of snow, and as further proof of that idea it has just started to snow here ! It is not very heavy snow - yet ! - but it could get a lot worse in the next 48 hours. Looking out my window as I type this I can see small dancing snowflakes, and a fair sized patch of blue sky that seems to be passing all too quickly.

 Last night it was bright when I left work, and it stayed mostly bright the whole way home. Another sign of the lengthening days was that I could do stuff around the house without needing to turn on any lights - at least for ten minutes I could. After that the light faded away, and within perhaps half an hour it was just another winters night.

 Last night I amused myself by copying some interesting stuff off an old hard disk that I subsequently used to do a trial installation of Windows 7 on one of my spare PCs. I am still not sure if I like Windows 7. It certainly runs smoothly (as far as I can tell from my brief experiments), but I am not that enthusiastic about the evolution of the Windows user interface. Eye candy is all very well, and I do appreciate a nice desktop picture, but I very much prefer the Windows classic look such as used on Windows 2000. As I said recently, although perhaps in not these exact words, or not in these words at all when I come to think about it, but what I meant when not using these words is that as user interfaces get more and more sophisticated I seem to be going backwards towards simpler interfaces. At this rate I guess I'll be back to the command line ( C:/ prompt in Microsoft useage) one day if I carry on these luddite tendencies. Some would say that real men use the command line all the time, but those who say it are possibly slightly deranged, but only slightly !
Tuesday 9th February 2010
08:43 GMT
  The weather continues to perplex me, and I think it positively bamboozles the weather forecasters. The theory was that this week would be dull and grey with either rain, sleet or snow. This morning, even as early as when I was walking to the station, it was obvious that there was a chance that we would get a sunrise. Later on, maybe after my train had passed Vauxhall station, we were treated to a dazzling sunrise. As my train pulled into Earlsfield station the traditional sunrise over the cemetary there was spoilt a bit by a thin bar of cloud that bisected the sun, and softened the glare. Now the cloud is thickening again, and rain, sleet, or snow is surely on it's way.

 As yesterday progressed the the sleety rain slowly turned into snow. Most of the time it was light and intermittent, but as I walked to the station at the end of the (working) day we had a sort of mini blizzard. As that swirled around it almost began to settle, but it never really did manage it. By the time I was back in Catford it had all stopped, and there was no sign there that it had even started.

 More snow is forecast, but the latest reckoning is that it will be of no significance at all until maybe tomorrow, and then perhaps quite significant on either Thursday and/or Friday. Meanwhile a vicious icy wind continues to freeze my face off (or it did as I came to work this morning).

 Last night I finally did something I had been meaning to do for ages. I removed my old main PC from the desk in the back room, and gave the desk a bit of a clean. It was only a bit of a clean because I couldn't be bothered to shift some of the clutter that prevented me from cleaning the whle surface, but I did use some furniture polish for the areas I could get at without disturbing the balance of the world.

 With the desk now free and unusually clean, I finally shifted my new "main" PC from off the top of my Windows PC and onto the desk. I was not 100% sure it would immeadiately take to the widescreen monitor that was on the desk, but Xubuntu 9.10 took it in it's stride and correctly set the screen resolution to the requirements of the monitor.

 With that PC now in it's permanent home I can now resume playing/testing/experimenting (call it what you like) of other stuff in the place where it used to be. I actually started doing some of that last night, and made myself a little late getting to bed as a result. I think I would have been sensible and stopped anyway before I was too late for bed, but what really made me shut everything down and go to bed was that I had a reached a point where to continue would make me very late for bed. I thought it would be a good idea to make a copy of some of the stuff on a hard disk that I was just about to erase. As far as I know, there is nothing seriously important on that hard disk, but a second look would be prudent, and I knew that setting that up would make me seriously late for bed. So it is a job for tonight. (I got interupted halfway through writing that. So apologies if it makes no sense, and I now have no time to edit it !).
Monday 8th February 2010
08:46 GMT
  Sunrise was supposed to be one hour and twenty minutes ago, and yet it is barely daylight outside.Worse than that, it is intermittently raining with some sleet mixed into with the rain. Anytime between now and next weekend it could snow, but we are told that it will be more likely towards the end of the week. That forecast comes from the same experts who originally said that last Saturday would be dry and bright, and that the world is slowly cooking itself to death through global warming. I am expecting Friday to be warm and sunny :-)

 For a Monday morning I don't feel that bad, although not actually good. It is possibly because I didn't eat much yesterday. Once again that comes with a caveat - I didn't eat much compared to a normal Sunday when I have little to do, and feel a bit bored. My total calorie intake is unknown, and possibly uncountable, but it was definitely more than I might desire, and possibly more than is good for me, and yet, as I said, I don't feel that bad this morning.

 Of course everything is not that rosy. This morning I am wearing a brand new pair of trousers, and they are not that comfortable. I can't actually remember when I bought them, but I think it may have been sometime last summer. They are made from a fairly thick material, and so more suited to winter than summer. It is possible that if I did eat more than I did yesterday I might not have been able to get into these trousers. They are tight, but not exceptionally so. I think the main area of discomfort is that they feel very stiff, almost starchy. I can't do anything now, but once I get home again this afternoon I have two choices. I can either endure the tightness and stiffness until the trousers are properly run in, or I could try washing them in fabric softener/conditioner. Considering they are the same make and size (but black instead of blue) as the jeans I was wearing last week you would think they would fit the same. Last weeks jeans fitted like a well oiled glove (if you will excuse the mixed metaphors) - they slipped on with ease and were hardly noticeable when on. In time these new black (and lightly corded) jeans should do the same - I hope  - until then I shall just have to endure the tightness and stiff legs.
Sunday 7th February 2010
12:12 GMT
  We are plunging back into winter again ! Not only is it very grey outside, but it is also deceptively cold. It may be because the inside of the house is very warm, or maybe it is just a trick of the earlier and earlier sunrise, but it looks as if it should be fairly mild outside. It's not though. In fact it is very chilly outside. Perhaps the only saving grace for today is that it is dry - well it is for now !

 Yesterday, after the truly awful start to the day, the sun did come out later in the afternoon. By then it was too late for me to go out exploring. I did go out to the 99p shop, where I bought loads of crap, but even with the sun out it was a cold miserable experience. I think it was ultimately made more miserable by me not taking off my glasses to more closely inspect what I was buying. What I thought were tins of flavoured peanuts turned out to be tins of flavoured crispy fried maize. I am not sure if I have ever come across crispy fried maize before. In fact it isn't that bad, but you just can't get into a mad feeding frenzy with it the same way you can with peanuts. Maybe that is not such a bad thing considering the calorific alue of peanuts. I am not sure the calorific value of crispy fried maize, but it is probably not too different to peanuts, and not being able to insanely eat the whole tin is good for me physically even if not good mentally.

 I have just seen the BBC weather forecast for the week ahead, and it's not entirely good. The forecast is for more chilly days, chillier than even now with temperatures plunging into minus figures (Celsius) during the night. On top of that it seems that snow could fall on any day during the coming week. So I expect there will be more travel chaos. I don't think we are expecting any heavy snowfalls, but it could be cumulative, and maybe towards the end of the week it could get deep. Some may only fall as sleet, and possibly some will fall as rain to wash away any snow that preceeded it. I might consider booking a day or two off work for the end of the week if it does look like there will be any substantial snowfall. If I do take any time off work, and if there are any trains running (that one's a big IF), I may decide to go out in the snow, but if I do I expect it will only be for the ride, and I doubt I will want to spend that long out in the raw elements.

 As desktops become more and more sopphisticated I feel increasingly like becoming a luddite. Although there are some rare alternatives to the standard Windows desktop, there are plenty of desktops to choose for Linux. Probably the most sophisticated desktop for Linux is KDE (it is also available for Windows too). With all the effects, widgets, doodahs, and whotsits turned on, the latest version of KDE is like Windows Vista on acid  ☺ - i.e. enough eye candy to make your eyes vomit. Slightly less freak out is the Gnome desktop. It can be configured to look and behave similar to other desktops such as Apple's OSX, or even (classic) Microsoft Windows. One that is even simpler, and consumes less computer resources than the heavyweights KDE and Gnome, is the Xfce desktop. It is the desktop I have been using recently on most of my computers. Just recently I became more aware of the LXDE desktop. It is a truly lightweight desktop that (allegedly) consumes few resources, but best of all it is very similar to the classic Windows 98/2000 look and feel. So far I have only had a very quick play with a live CD demonstration of LXDE* , and it seemed pretty good to me. I have an old laptop at work that was given to me and has a fairly low specification. It would seem an ideal candidate to test the LXDE desktop on, and I may well give it a try sometime during the week.

* Here are some instructions if you want to try LXDE yourself without changing anything on you PC.
  • Go to  http://lxde.org/download and click on  "Download Live CD Version"
  • This will download a file called debian-live-503-i386-lxde-desktop.iso
  • Save this file to somewhere convenient (desktop, or My Documents maybe).
  • When the download has finished double click on the file and hopefully your CD burning application will offer to burn the image to CD, if not see further information below.
  • When the iso image file has been burnt to CD you reboot your computer with the CD in the CD drive.
  • Most computers are set to boot from CD first (if a bootable one is in the drive), but on some you may need to change the boot order in the BIOS settings.
  • As the computer boots up various messages will flash by. Ignore these, and after a while you should be rewarded with the LXDE desktop. 
 In the bottom left of the screen is the LXDE logo, and it takes the place of the Windows Start menu button. Click on it and it will open up with a menu of various programs on offer. There is the entire Open Office suite that will open almost any Microsoft Office file, music and video players, The Gimp image editing software, and there is Ice Weasel which is a derivitive of the Firefox web browser. Hopefully all your hardware was correctly detected, and all the drivers automatically installed ready for you to get the correct graphics, sound and a working network connection. One thing to note is that you can't save anything back to the CD, but you can plug in a USB memory stick and read and write to that. Assuming everything works, keep the CD safe - the next time Windows has a major crash, or your machine becomes too infected with viruses, spyware, and other general nasties, it may be your only way to get back on the internet almost instantly.

 There is some guidance on burning iso image files to CD here and here.
Saturday 6th February 2010
08:06 GMT
  It is a lot greyer and wetter than it was supposed to be this morning. I saw a weather forecast on TV last night that did hint that today would not be as good as previously thought. Maybe it will improve a bit as the day progresses, but for now it can only be said to be murky outside. There is one very small positive thing about this, and that is that it is probably slightly milder than expected.

 With the weather looking so bad I don't think I will be going out to the seaside today. There is another reason that puts me off going out. Last night, perhaps sensing that the weather would be bad, I didn't eat as little as I originally intended. In fact I ate quite a lot, and for some reason, maybe indigestion, I had a very poor sleep last night. I was in no particular discomfort, but every hour or two throughout the night I kept waking up. After a while I would go back to sleep again, but at 4 am I decided to get up for a while.

 After checking my email I couldn't really think of anything to do so I went for a short walk in the park. There was some light rain when I went out, but with the hood up on my new jacket, and probably looking quite sinister, I stayed dry. If it had been another degree or two warmer I might have stayed out longer, but after about 15 minutes my hands started to feel rather cold, although the rest of me wasn't too bad. There is something about being out in the park at that time of morning that feels sort of good. It is very peaceful, and yet there is still a lot of wildlife to be seen. I saw a couple of foxes off in the distance, and I can't say I have ever seen them in the park during daylight. In the pools of light by the too frequent lighting there were blackbirds poking around for worms brought up by the rain, and in the shallows of the river there were ducks resting. I wanted to say sleeping, but although they were quite still they were still alert.

 After my short walk I came home and had a shower. Then I went back to bed again and tried to get some more sleep. I did get some sleep, but as well as whatever was waking me up previously I had another little problem. Smudge decided it was time for breakfast, and the only way to get any peace was to go back downstairs and feed her. I have been awake since then, but now I feel like going back to bed for the third time.

 The excess of food that possibly kept waking me up, and now is making my guts feel a little too volatile to go out just yet, was some steak. I bought it nearly a week ago, and it was from the "getting very close to the sell by date" reduced price shelf. Even when I bought it looked slightly brown, and when I cooked it last night it was definitely brown. That was no bad thing though, and it probably improved the texture a bit. I don't think it was supposed to be good quality frying steak, and originally I intended to use it for a stew, but I fried it anyway. It was not as nice as I hoped, but still quite tasty. The big problem was that it was a bigger pack than I thought, and with the state it was in I didn't think it wise to keep it any longer once the packet had been opened. So I ate the whole lot together with a fried onion and a very large fried tomato. It certainly satisfied a need, but I did over do it a bit !

 I am not sure what I will eat tonight. I did have this idea that if I went out for the day, and walked at least three miles, I would treat  myself to a very large chicken kebab. Looking out the window, I still feel it is unlikely that I will be going out today so I might see if I can eat something healthier tonight. That still leaves a whole day to get through, and even now I feel a bit peckish. I think that before the day is over I will have eaten something, or more likely some things that I probably shouldn't eat.
Friday 5th February 2010
08:19 GMT
  The clash between the warmer, moister air, and the dry cold air has almost passed by. There was a lot of rain last night that has left everything a bit soggy, but apart from about a dozen small raindrops that had yet to find their way down to earth, it had stopped raining when I left home to come to work. While it may have stopped raining for now, the sky still is a thick grey colour, and more rain will fall sometime today. After that it should brighten up, and there is a fair chance that tomorrow will be dry with plenty of sunny intervals.

 The temperature is still fairly low right now, maybe somewhere around 5 C, perhaps a degree less, but we are promised that the temperature could rise into double figures before the day is out. That will only be in inner London, and even then I think it will be a struggle for the temperature to creep past 9.9 to the magical 10 C !

 This range of temperatures is a good test for my new jacket, but it's a shame that the rain didn't hold on for maybe an extra half hour so I could test how waterproof it is. As may be guessed, I wore my new jacket to work this morning, and I do have mixed feelings about it. There are two obvious bad things about it. The first is that it stinks of parafin. I assume it is part of the waterproofing process, and that it will wear off soon. The other bad thing is that it has a serious lack of pockets. With just two outer pockets, and no inner pockets, there is nowhere to keep a mobile phone, or a pen, or any of the other useful things you might put in a pocket when travelling light.

 One positive thing about the jacket is that it is very light, and it possible to bundle it up almost as small as my cagoule. That's handy for keeping it a bag for emergencies. Unlike the cagoule it has a sort of string vest like lining. That does provide some insulation, but it's not really enough for a day any colder than today. It may just be me (and probably is) but one observation I have made about the "warmth" of the jacket is that it seems to have some sort of threshold. While walking about outside I felt very slightly too cool, but in a train carriage, and not one that was heated that well, I seemed to warm up more than I think I would when wearing my warmest jacket. It seems that once the temperature crosses a boundary the jacket suddenly heats up.

 While writing those last two paragraphs I got to thinking about whether I should be writing coat instead of jacket. The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that I should be using the word coat instead of jacket, and that's probably not a bad idea anyway. Coat just about covers any variation of a thing you wear on the outside top half of your body to provide extra protection from whatever it is you need extra protection from.

 It's straining my brain, but I have been thinking further ! When I bought my new coat it was described as a bomber jacket. So I was correct in using the term jacket after all. Sometimes life is confusing, but there is no confusion about the shirts I bought at the same time as the jacket. They are definitely shirts, but I could add that they are long sleeved, button up, with a small top pocket type of shirts. I think that the sleeves may be half an inch too long, but other than that they are perfect.

 Last night was New Scientist night, and I bought my copy in Tesco's on the way home. I also bought some hot & spicy hot chicken thighs. They are very nice despite not being what I would call hot and spicy, but are not exactly good for me. I also bought a couple of sandwiches and other stuff. Amongst the other stuff was a pack of mixed melon and grapes. It was probably a wise move to buy that fruit or I would almost certainly have eaten some far worse "other stuff" !  The greasy chicken may have been delicious at the time, but it has left me feeling a bit off this morning.

 Tonight I really must try and eat lightly. I think there is still a 50:50 chance that I will be going out exploring tomorrow. I have even made one extra preparation towards this. On my way into work this morning I bought a Network Railcard. It cost 25 and will give me up to 1/3 off the price of my off peak leisure tickets. Considering the amount I spent on fares going to the seaside last year, that 25 will be recouped very quickly if I make that many journeys, and I hope I will be making even more this year.
Thursday 4th February 2010
08:27 GMT
  The battle between the warm air to the west, and the cold air to the east seems to be taking place overhead right now. The warm (that is comparative warm rather than actual warm) moist air is making it feel a litlle more milder than of late, but where it mixes with the cold air it drops rain on us.

 It looked as if there had been some heavy rain just before I left home to come to work, but there was only some intermittent light rain as I walked to the station. When I finally arrived at Earlsfield station I could feel some random small raindrops hitting my face, but it was mostly insignificant. As I walked towards work those random drops became a more concerted effort, and  I began to get wet. When I left the train I didn't bother doing my coat up because I knew it was not that cold, nor was it raining. With the front of my coat undone I did start to get a wet shirt as I approached work, but I couldn't be bothered to stop to do up my jacket with work so close by.

 All that might have been different if my new jacket had arrived in time for me to wear it this morning. It seems it did arrive yesterday, but after I had left to go home. So I still say yah boo sucks to Tesco for being so slow ! Now it has arrived I am not so sure about that jacket. The other bits of my order, the new shirts, are pretty much as I thought they would be. In the twin packs of two shirts one is good and the other not so good, but this is how they were when I last bought a pack instore.

 The new jacket is considerably lighter than I imagined it to be, and I can't see it being usefully warm to wear. Maybe that won't matter as spring gets near. As for the styling.....with the hood down it is similar to something a skinhead National Front Party thug might wear. With the hood up it is like something a black gang member might wear. As those two parties are rather extreme opposites I can only presume that my new jacket is actually fairly neutral. I have very briefly tried it for size, and that's fine, but I think the first real test will come when I go outside to have a fag. If it keeps me warm and dry then I guess it was a good choice.

 I don't think I had a specific purpose when I ordered that jacket, but now I almost do. It is alleged that Saturday may be as warm as 9 C, and although there is a chance of a shower, it should be mostly dry. With that in mind I have been thinking of going to Walton-On-The-Naze for a bit of an explore. I am not sure if my new jacket is good enough to protect me from cold sea breezes, but even if it is not good enough in February it may well be in March when I hope we gain a few more degrees on the thermometer.

 It is still possible that come Saturday morning I will elect to go back to bed instead of going out, but I am taking some half hearted measures to try and get prepared to go out. Last night I did not get to bed as early as I should, but  was a little more careful with the contents of my eating. Poached (not fried) liver, onions and carrots are all noted for being low in fat, and possibly low in sugar and calories too. These, along with stuff like pepper, stock cubes and chilli sauce were the chief ingredients of my dinner last night. It sounds fine, but I did eat a huge portion of it. I didn't really expect it to be so big, and I think one of the reasons I was decieved was because I didn't cook it for long enough for everything to shrink  away (particularly the onions).

 In moderate quantities it was probably quite a healthy meal.....or could have been if a particularly spicy bit hadn't irritated my throat at precisely the wrong time. I managed to avoid choking, and I managed to avoid spraying the TV with bits of semi chewed dinner, but I didn't avoid coughing, and I coughed and coughed until all my right lung, and half my left lung were last seen speeding oward the horizon and I had sucked my testicles up to behind my ears. I do have a slightly sore throat this morning.

A couple of hours after eating that I went to bed still feeling very stuffed, and my airways still feeling red raw. This morning the only legacy is a slight tenderness of the throat. My dinner seemed to settle down overnight, and if such a thing were possible I would say I feel ever so slightly lighter now. I am not sure if I feel as good as I would need to feel to go out rampaging on Saturday, but I think I am getting closer to it.
Wednesday 3rd February 2010
08:14 GMT
 It may have been dry as I came to work, and it may be (slightly) mild out, but the spectre of doom still hangs over us. It could be bright and sunny at this time of the morning, but the sky is just a thick turgid grey. Sometime today it is bound to rain, and if it doesn't manage it today it may well sleet tomorrow. There is a patch of "warm" air to the west that will soon be meeting a patch of cold air to the east. When that happens something is going to fall out of the sky. In rare places, or so the weather forecasters would have us believe, that something will be snow, but for most of us the worst we can expect is sleet. Weather forecasters have been known to get these things wrong so I predict that before the next 24 hours have passed we will see something between drizzle and the total apocalypse.

 Last night I had a very healthy meal. It was salmon poached with broccoli and leeks in some fish stock. It was very low in fat, sugar, and calories. If I had only eaten that I would be feeling both very hungry and very healthy today (even if the latter is a gross exaggeration, or even a complete lie). It is the sort of evening meal I will, or should be aiming for when the weather gets a bit warmer, but right now it is still too cold and dark in the evenings to survive on that alone. This, of course, is determined by mental state rather than real physical effects. I supplemented that dinner with as many as 10 digestive biscuits. That wasn't ideal, but not awfully, terribly bad. It was the (allegedly) German meat balls that I snacked on that were the real awful, terrible badness. This "error of judgement" gets worse in light of the fact that I didn't really enjoy those meatballs, but ate them anyway.

 Today, as I have been for the previous two days, but now even more so, I am waiting on the delivery of some new cloths from Tesco clothing direct. Their delivery service seems painfully slow compared to many, if not most, of the suppliers of techno stuff that I use. My order conists of several double packs of shirts, and another jacket. On the assumption (which may be stupid) that the shirts I have ordered online are the same as the ones I have bought in store (before the rotten stinking b***t&^%ds decided that they weren't going to sell mens clothing in Catford) they should be fine. The Jacket I am not so sure about. I have a fair degree of confidence that it will fit OK, but less so that it will be comfortable to wear. More importantly, I am not very sure about whether I will like the style of it, or if it will combine the warmth and waterproofness that I bought it for. As far as I can remember from when I ordered the jacket about a week ago, it is a "waterproof, all weather, hooded, black bomber jacket", or at least something similar to that.

 Once upon a time I thought hooded jackets were at best a bit weird, and at worst somewhat sinister. To some extent I think this is true, but now I only tend to think that way when seeing some of today's "yoof" wearing such clothing, with the hood up, on a hot sweltering day (which they do in these parts). On top of that there are probably terrible associations of childhood abuse where we were forced to wear such things as fully buttoned up duffelcoats with the hood up (until we got out of sight around the corner, and undid all the buttons so we could more easily jump in all the puddles, and carry out other childhood delights.) It's a well know fact that only mummys boys would stay swaddled up in the straightjacket of far too many layers of heatstroke inducing clothing all day. They were to be pitied (mainly because the rest of us would either ignore them or take the piss out of them - children can be so cruel !).

 After all that negative imagery it is a wonder that I have now changed my mind about hoods, and even gone as far as buying a jacket with a hood. The reason is quite simple - I have grown to appreciate just how dry my head can be when going outside for a fag while wearing my cagoule with the hood up. (Should that be up or on ?). I have also noticed that it does give some protection to the effects of a biting cold wind on the earlobes (for instance). If that is what a thin plastic layer can do, then a more substantial (but hopefully not as thick and lumpy as those ancient duffel coats used to be some 50 years ago) fabric hood could be very useful when those icy winds blow, and the sleet comes racing down to slap you on the face. So it looks like I have joined the hoodie generation, and I don't think I am too embarrassed about it, but I am still yearning for warm days when just jeans and tshirt is all I need to wear.
Tuesday 2nd February 2010
08:29 GMT
The sunshine has gone away again ! This morning it is grey and damp outside. It was raining before I left for work, and there was a little bit of fine rain in the wind when I exited Earlsfield station. No doubt there will be more rain today, but at least I stayed virtually dry while I made my way into work. All the clouds have helped the temperature to stay above freezing. It may be several degrees above freezing outside, but the wind still has a bit of a bite to it. Without that wind, even though it is not that strong, it would feel almost comfortable outside provided you didn't stop moving.

 Yesterday was pleasantly sunny for the most part. As the afternoon wore on the sky did get a bit hazy, and as I made my way home from work some thin cloud decided to sit on the horizon where the last of the suns rays should have been coming from. So although I could see plenty of blue sky, it still felt rather gloomy.

 The sunshine we have had lately was very welcome for lifting the winter gloom, but now I am feeling some urgency for that sunshine to bring some warmth. Earlier this morning I was looking back at some of the photos I have put on my website taken on my days out during the summer and autumn (click on Site Map at the top of the page for a selection of them). It made me feel very nostalgic those warm days.

 This morning I knew I felt nostalgic for warmer days, sunshine, and walks along the beach, but I think last night I didn't really realise it was that making feel very mildly depressed. I had been feeling quite good during the day. It was sunny, and I didn't have any significant after effects from the long walk I did the day before. If I did have any after effects at all they were beneficial ones. Yet when darkness fell, and with the cloud on the western horizon it fell earlier than it could have, I felt slightly low, and annoyingly hungry. I ended up eating far more yesterday than I did on Sunday - usually it would be the other way round. As well as far too many calories worth of bad stuff, I also consumed quite a big portion of brussels sprouts. Now they, together with all the other crap I ate last night, have had an "interesting" effect on my digestion. I seem stable now, and have been since setting out for work, but when I woke up at 5 am I woke up in considerable pain. My internal gas pressure was almost enough to liquify the methane, and I came close to blasting the duvet off my bed. Such was the downdraft that I think if I had used the duvet as a sort of skirt (the sort of skirts that hovercraft use) I could have quite comfortably hovered all the way to the bathroom. That's probably far too much information, and I ought to stop at this point !
Monday 1st February 2010
08:24 GMT
 Maybe the best way to describe the weather this morning is to show a picture.........
Snow on 1st February 2010
 This is one of the approach roads to work, and as you can see it is covered, or maybe just sprinkled with snow. The amount of snow is maybe just a little more than fell on Catford on Saturday morning, and just like on Saturday morning, the cloud that did the dirty on us has disappeared without trace. As I write the sky is perfectly clear, and perfectly blue. Those depressed weather forecasters say there could be rain later today, but for now, apart for the fact that the temperature is still a little below zero, everything is fine.

 While Earlsfield is white with snow, Catford was just white with frost when I left for work this morning. It did seem to be a particulary severe frost, but strangely enough it didn't feel exceptionally cold as I walked to the station. That was probably because there was hardly any wind. If it was blowing a gale I can imagine that it would ceratinly felt cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. (Which of course is a nautical expression and nothing to do with human anatomy [but could be]).

 After my long walk yesterday I had another look at the settings for the CardioTrainer application for my G1 smart moile phone. If you looked carefully at the screenshot I posted yesterday you may have noticed that my walk consumed 350 calories. What I hadn't realised is that the default settings in Cardio Trainer are set for someone who weaighs approximately two thirds of my own weight. I have corrected that now, but the application does not recaculate the calories burnt and redisplay them. Future walks where I use Cardio Trainer should show a more accurate figure, but for now I think it is safe to assume that my Sunday walk actually burnt up just over 500 calories, and that's not bad going !

 I am really happy that I changed the Linux operating system on my main PC from PCLinuxOS to Xubuntu last Friday. It is now much, much, faster is all respects. The most impressive thing is the boot up time (using auto login). From hitting the power button for a cold start it takes just over 30 seconds for the desktop with correctly displayed icons to appear, and then another 10 - 12 seconds for the "connected to the network" icon to flash up. Almost as little as a second after that I can get Firefox running, and the main google page is displayed less than a second after that. By comparison, my heavily laden Windows XP computer here at work, takes a good few minutes before you can even get any response to a programme such as Firefox. To use Outlook, which we use here at work for email, I have to wait a good 3 or 4 minutes before it can check for mail from the companies mail server. It's getting quite boring to use compared with my main PC at home !