|My Diary/Blog For the Month of January 2010|
|Sunday 31st January 2010|
The weather forecasters predicted that today would be nice, and they were right ! The day started cold and frosty, but the skies were fairly clear, and the day started with some weak sunshine coming through some of the mistiness in the sky. Since then the sky has cleared even more, and the sun is blazing away nicely. It is a shame that at this time of the year it doesn't carry much heat. In some sheltered spots there is still some of the light dusting of snow we had yesterday morning. One weather forecast, from a not terribly reliable internet source, suggests that we may have a few more light snow showers later in the coming week.
Apart from going to meet Aleemah at the station I never really went out yesterday in the sunshine, but today I decided I just had to go out. I don't know what madness overtook me, but considering I feel really out of condition I set out on a quite ambitious walk. It was mostly by road, and I did have the option of giving up and getting a bus at many places, but I stuck it out and arrived home, just a little while ago feeling quite exhausted. The best way to describe my walk is by means of a screenshot.
To get this I used an application called Cardiotrainer on my G1 mobile phone. It uses the satelite navigation feature to map the walk, and then uploads the complete "workout" to a password protected website. It's quite handy, but I don't really care for all the association with sports this programme has. It is primarily meant for those who want to run around like idiots wearing their bodies to a frazzle. I just like a bit of fresh air and some scenery !
I took a few photos while walking, but most of them are just bland scenery (at least in 2D they are). One photo had some sort of interest - tadpoles !
These "tadpoles" are a sort of "feature" in Manor House Park, which was the arbitary destination I had set myself for my walk. I noticed that they turn in the wind, and that is about all I can say about them.
|Saturday 30th January 2010|
I was up at 4 am this morning (briefly) and apart from it being freezing cold everything looked normal. When I got up properly at 8 am I looked out the window to see snow. There wasn't much of it, but just enough to make most of the road and pavements totally white. The cloud that dropped it must have whizzed by very quickly sometime between 4 am and 8 am.
Last night the sky was mostly clear, and I had the pleasure of coming home from work in sunshine for maybe the first half of my journey, and just good daylight for the second half. At 8 am this morning it was already quite bright outside partially from the brilliant white snow, but mostly because the sky was clear. Since then the sun has been out for most of the time, and the suns rays did carry some warmth with them.
Now, with the sun beginning to set, it's getting colder, but the clouds are getting thicker. Today's sun only raised the temperature from painfully cold to uncomfortably cold, but a decent bit of cloud tonight may hold in some of the heat. However, the last weather forecast I saw suggested that tomorrow would be bright and sunny like today. So maybe the clouds I can see in the sky now are more of those hit-and-run clouds that are going to dump something somewhere and buzz off again.
Last night I did something that I hinted I was going to do, but I didn't expect I would do it last night. First of all I tested out Xubuntu linux 9.10 in live CD mode. I was impressed. It did everything that it should have done, and I decided I might as well install it permanently then and there. Within something like 90 minutes of first booting the computer from the live CD I had a fully functioning installation of Xubuntu plus most of my favourite applications.
The installation worked well. In fact it worked very well indeed. It seemed much faster than my previous installtion of PCLinuxOS 2009, and didn't appear to suffer from a few niggles that PCLinuxOS suffered from. Perhaps one of the most obvious things was that Mozilla Thunderbird, my email client, started working properly again. For some reason that I couldn't even begin to guess about, it previously decided to display one of my email accounts twice. That didn't stop anything working, but was irritatingly weird.
Other improvements are that Xubuntu is a lot faster to boot up, and my digital TV dongle now works almost properly. The "almost" is because of two things I noticed that do, if I am honest, make it not really usable. The new dongle does not appear to be so sensitive as the one I blew up, and with the weak signal I get in my back room I get a lot of picture break up. On some channels it is so severe that it causes Kaffeine, the media player I use with it, to crash. It is only a very minor niggle because it was only important that it would be able to display TV pictures, which it does, and not that I ever really thought I would use it for any serious purpose. On those rare occasions when I do want to record a TV programme off the dongle I can easily use it in my laptop, and use that in the front room where the signal is OK.
Overall I am very happy with Xubunto 9.10 as it now stands, but I will do some fine tuning to it sometime. There are a few colours I would like to change, and maybe a few system sounds I might alter. One other possibilty is to add another window manager. Xubuntu is so named because it uses the Xfce window manager. It is a light and simple window manager, but sometimes I want, as some might say, a slightly richer experience. For that I have the choice of Gnome or KDE. Updating to either of them should be simple, but could cause complications, and if the only version of KDE is the new fangled 3.5 (or higher) version than I won't be interested in that. The new versions of KDE are so "rich" that they are almost artery busting ! The designers inspiration seems to come from out grossing Windows Vista, while I prefer the cleaner look more like Windows 2000. Maybe I might just upgrade to Gnome and customise the life out of it.
|Friday 29th January 2010|
Maybe the weather forecasters do get some things right. They said there would be rain this morning, and there is. Mind you, they were very unsure if it would be sleety rain or even snow. In fact it is just plain old rain falling from the thick grey clouds above. The first spots of rain fell before I went to bed last night so the forecasters did not have to look too far into the future to get their forecast right on TV last night. I think they may have got their temperature forecast wrong though. As far as I can remember, and I admit it is a very vague memory that is seriously prone to error, they forecast that it would be a lot colder than it actually appears to be. Like yesterday, it is a long way from anything approaching the most optimistic idea of warm, but it is certainly not painfully cold outside.
Meanwhile, in my bathroom this morning, it was uncomfortably cold, but it was still an improvement over earlier days. On some of the frostier mornings we have had it was most definitely extremely cold in the bathroom first thing in the morning. I suspect that any passing alien ecologists making an inventory of Earth would have needed a good magnifying glass to determine my gender ! On the very coldest morning of them all, even I got to wondering if they had fallen off :-)
The good news is that my new USB digital TV dongle is happy with Linux (or maybe that should have been the other way round). I actually bought two dongles, but only one of them would work with Linux. Funnily enough it was the cheaper, and better looking one that worked. I would be stretching the truth if I were to say that it worked perfectly though. On my current main Linux PC it didn't work work. On my old Linux PC I got good sound but solid blue instead of a picture. On my Aspire One netbook it worked perfectly first time - it was truly just plug and play !
In an attempt to get the dongle to work on my main Linux PC, and to sort out a few other problems, I managed to break the package manager last night. The package manager is the application where you can install most software just by a single click (to select the package, and actually another click to do the installation).
That main PC is currently running PCLinuxOS 2009. In many respects it is a very good operating system, but one of it's weaknesses is the way they implement the package manager. It is some special customisation of the Synaptic package manager as used by many Linux distributions. I am sure there is a configuration file for Synaptic, and I think PCLinuxOS uses some pretty strange configuration settings because it acts differently to how, let's say, Ubuntu does it. I now have two choices. I can either find that configuration file and see if I can improve on the way it is set up (and also try and fix the bit I broke), or I can re-install the operating system from scratch. Considering that I left home this morning with the latest version of Xubuntu downloading, it is quite possible I will opt for a change of operating system*.
* To be pedantic it is not a change of operating system at all. THE operating system is actually Gnu/Linux, but it is what is built on top of that, that differentiates one from another. If I change things it will actually be the Linux Distribution (or distro) that I change. Different distros use different management tools, colours, schemes, themes, sounds, default selections of packages etc etc, but are built on the same Linux kernel which is (you could say) the beating heart of Linux.
|Thursday 28th January 2010|
There was no frost this morning, and I think the temperature was 3 or 4° C. That's far from warm, but high enough to stop the fingers turning blue. It is another overcast morning, and the chance of a sleety shower remains a possibility all day, and becomes almosta definite for tomorrow.
I was worried about cold sleety rain making my journey home from work a misery last night. I needn't have worried too much. There was a some very light intermittent rain as I walked to Earlsfield Station, but that is all I can recall. Elsewhere there may have been more rain, but all I felt were a few drops of rain hit my face in quick succession, and then a pause of up to a minute before I felt a few more drops hit my face. I think the last rain drops I felt where shortly before arriving at the station.
I had a little disaster yesterday. I was trying out my USB digital TV stick (or dongle) on my latest laptop, but it wouldn't work because the laptop only has USB 1 ports, and not the fast USB 2. For such occasions I do have a PCMCIA (PC card) USB 2 adapter, and using that made it almost work, but the TV stick draws more power than the adapter can give on it's own. The makers of the adapter are aware of this limitation and provide a socket for an external power supply. Unfortunately they do not mark the polarity of the external supply on the adapter itself. I am pretty certain that I connected the wrong polarity, and that seems to have blown up my TV stick.
I very rarely use my USB digital TV stick, but it is handy for emergencies, and on one occasion I did use it to record one Freeview channel while I watched another on my set top Freeview box connected to my TV. In some ways it is like a jack for a car - you hope you never need to use it, but when you do it is indispensible. Well, maybe that is taking the analogy a bit far, but as soon as I had double checked that my TV stick had died I immeadiately ordered another. Now all I hope is that the new one will work with Linux like the old one did. Some of them do, and some of them don't, and there is often not enough information provided by the retailers to base any research on. So it's just a case of suck it and see.
|Wednesday 27th January 2010|
Last night there was a very red sunset. By tradition that means good weather for today.............but.........this morning there was a very red sunrise, and by tradition that means poor weather today. These bloody sunsets/sunrises seem to be as schizophrenically accurate as out weather forecasters !
One aspect of the weather is for definite. It was certainly cold and frosty this morning. The frost was not that thick, although it is likely that the air was fairly dry after a cold dry day yesterday. Even without a thick frost it still felt cold enough for hands to feel cold even with my gloves on. Happily there was very little wind during the walking portions of my journey to work, and so I didn't feel so cold on my face and ears.
There was a lot of weak and watery sunshine yesterday. It didn't seem to have any wamth in it, but at least it made the place look bright. If that sunshine hadn't been diffused by some mistyness in the sky it could have felt quite pleasant. The sky was still relatively clear when I arrived in Catford on my way home from work. That meant I had the rare pleasure of getting home in something resembling daylight. Today will most probably be different. The weather forecasters think there could be some cold sleety rain to ruin my journey home tonight.
The highlight of yesterday, as is so often the case, was getting home to have my dinner. Last night I had a very low fat chicken stew with all sorts of exciting spices in it. It was rather good and rather filling, or at least filling enough that I didn't really have all that much extra food. As a consequence to that I feel marginally better this morning than I did the previous morning.I still didn't feel much like rushing around first thing this morning, and I still had a pretty good nightmare during the night.
I finally achieved my ambition of getting to bed extra early last night so I could spend a reasonable time reading in bed. In fact I did not read that much, and turned out the light possibly as early as 8.15 pm. I was asleep very soon after, and during the night I had a seemingly very long nightmare. Once again it wasn't a nightmare where I felt threatened or in danger. In many ways it was like watching a TV programme. At a few points it was like I imagined I was one of the characters as you sometimes do in a really well written/acted TV programme (rare these days), but for the most part I was just a passive observer.
|Tuesday 26th January 2010|
It seemed excessively chilly as I made my way home from work last night. So I was expecting there to be a frost this morning. there wasn't, but it feels like it came close to being frosty. It is possibly a little brighter this morning. After the wet gloom of Monday morning, it was very slightly uplifting to come to work in the dry, and to have an insanely optimistic idea that the sun could peep out of one of the miniscule gaps between the clouds I can see right now. It is highly unlikely (pessimism speaking now) that there will be any prolonged sunshine today, but if it stays dry it will help. It would help even more if the temperature could rise a few degrees. It was starting to warm up last week, but now we seem to be plunging back into the cold again. One highly speculative forecast suggests that there could be more snow on Friday !
I feel a lot better this morning than I did yesterday morning. I still suffer from some creakiness, and I guess that won't really go away until winter is long gone. I guess it is a touch of rhuematism and/or arthritus. I recently read in one of the papers about an increase in the amount of rickets being diagnosed. This recently uncommon condition is caused by a lack of vitamin D that is in turn caused by a lack of sunlight. Maybe I am suffering from ricketts too. In fact I am sure I can feel my bones distorting even as I sit here :-)
I still seem unable to get to sleep on time lately. Last night was not too bad. I was intending to get into bed early, but as so often happens I had a distraction, and that delayed me getting to bed by about 30 minutes. When I did get to sleep I was quite disturbed by a nightmare and woke up twice in the night to escape from this nightmare. I suppose in some ways you could say it was not a true nightmare because at no time did I dream that I was in any imminent danger, and that it only woke me up because it was getting tedious and boring. It was a sort of science fiction dream/nightmare about this very carnivorous, indestructable, shape changing mollusc.
This fantasy mollusc usually took on the shape of something similar to a seal - including fur. Apart from it's habit of eating everything it was quite friendly and liked to be stroked. As far as I can remember I was trying to get rid of it because I knew it was actually quite dangerous, and as my attempts went on and on I think I just became bored and woke up to relieve the monotony. After that I had some sort of inconsequential dream, probably about trains or something, and then I woke up needing a pee.
When got back to sleep again I started dreaming about the wretched mollusc thing again. There was one difference this time - it was taking the shape of a cat, and appeared to be living quite happily alongside Smudge. Although now a lot smaller it was still fiercely carnivorous, and would occasionally eat the odd dog, or even a horse. My dream did not actually feature it eating anything at all, but I just knew it was eating these things. I was concerned that it would eat Smudge, but she seemed to know when it might attack her, and would put it in it's place before it could change into the ravening beast that it was. Eventually my alarm went off and it was time to get up.
|Monday 25th January 2010|
My theory that the clouds would thicken yesterday proved to be correct. My speculation that there could be rain in the evening was wrong, but there was rain in the early hours of the morning, and there was some very light rain in the air as I walked to the station this morning. the rain seems to have stopped for now, but the sky is very grey, and it could pour down at any time.
This morning felt almost mild again, but another couple of degrees warmer would be very preferable. I really have no clue as to the actual temperature in degrees, but I know it was possible for me to stand in my bathroom with no fear of bits of me freezing, shrivelling up, and falling off. I can't actually say it was pleasant standing naked in my bathroom, but with no fear of frost damage I felt like I would dare to wash my hair before coming to work. I am glad I did because it did need washing.
I went to bed a little later than I should have done, and then made things worse by reading in bed for a while. I probably lost about 90 minutes of sleep because of that, but I was still able to get up instantly my alarm went off, and I didn't really feel tired. Not feeling tored was about the only thing I didn't feel. After both too much eating, and too little activity, I did, and to a far lesser extent, still do feel quite bad. I began to feel better the closer I got to work, and after the final walk, and maybe then the ability to sit down and take the weight off my feet, I don't feel too bad now. When I first got up I felt stiff and turgid. Now I am unsure of the precise meaning of turgid as I write this, but it feels like a good word to describe how I felt. Another way to describe how I felt needs to invoke a little science fiction fantasy, and if you are not a fan of science fiction, or don't know some of the most basic bits of science, then this is going to be meaningless to you, but it felt like I had landed on a planet that double the gravity. Everything, including parts of my body, felt twice as heavy, and the strain and stress of this had probably raised my blood pressure to the point where I had a headache. Overall I was probably close to death, but now I fear I am going to live.
|Sunday 24th January 2010|
It's almost a nice day today. For a start it is dry and relatively mild, but it almost gets better. The cloud is high and thin, and slightly broken up. That means on rare occasions the sun almost breaks through the clouds. Unfortunately there seems to be some even higher (or are they lower ?) very thin misty clouds that stop the sun reaching it's full potential. It is possible that the clouds are barely percepably getting thicker, and maybe by the evening there will be complete cloud cover, and then the possibility of rain.
With the weather as it is I should really be out taking a walk right now, but I can't be bothered. I have been out to Tesco this morning, and in fact I only got back 10 or 15 minutes ago. It was sort of nice out there, but lugging back heavy tins of catfood, and a load of heavy fruit and vegetables has left me feeling like I want to sit down for a while. While I sit down I have a couple of reduced price pork chops in the oven. I haven't had pork chops for ages, and I couldn't wait to get them cooked and eaten. After stuffing my face with them I am very unlikely to want to walk anywhere !
Another thing I bought while in Tesco was a Targus backpack. I already have one good packpack, but this one is specifically designed for carry a laptop (and obviously other stuff too). That could be handy, and the mini laptop mouse that comes with it could be very handy too. I very nearly bought one of these backpacks sometime last autumn. It appeared that they were in the reduced price area, but when the till came up with the full price, and one of the shop assistants confirmed it was full price, I told them to stuff it. Now though they really are being sold at a reduced price. The original price was £40, but the one I bought, which seems to be in 100% perfect condition, was just £5. It was worth it just for the mini mouse (which is an optical mouse featuring a scroll wheel).
I didn't do anything of particular note yesterday, but I feel I deserved a good rest. and that is precisely what I did. The only thing I can claim to have done beside reading, watching TV, and "surfing the net", was two loads of laundry. The washing machine does most of the work so I can hardly claim to have been taxed doing that, but I did have hang up all that stuff to dry, and that takes a very (very !) small amount of energy and time. The one other thing I did was to eat. I didn't have a single conventional meal, but just snacked rather too much. That probably explains why when I tried on a fresh pair of trousers, that had had a very good hot wash, they were a little tighter than I might have liked this morning. Today I must do better, and of course I really should have decided to go for a three mile walk instead of cooking my pork chops, but I'll save my energy for the long commute to and from work tomorrow. Maybe, if it's dry, and maybe even more if it's sunny, I'll take a long walk during my lunchbreak, but if it's raining........well I'll probably have to buy some bigger trousers !
|Saturday 23rd January 2010|
If it wasn't for the fact that it is relatively mild outside I would write off today as being very horrible. It is very grey outside, and while I don't think it is actually raining at this moment, it is very wet outside. Towards the begiining of the week the weather forecasters were suggesting that today would be bright and sunny. As the days progressed they became less enthusiastic about the idea until we were left with this moserable day. I had got my hopes up that I would be able to enjoy today, but no, and I feel quite cheated. Tomorrow may be brighter, but it will also be colder - if anything the weather forecasters say can be believed !
Yesterday was quite wet, but apart from going outside for my fag breaks, I was mostly in the warm at work. The rain did stop in time for me to go home, and I think it remained dry for all evening.
During yesterday morning the new network interface/modem combo card arrived for my latest laptop. To my relief it did fit, and work perfectly. I spent more time on that laptop installing Windows 2000 as a second boot option, and then liiux as a third boot option. Originally I thought that Pardus linux would work well on that laptop, but it seemed to lock up halfway through booting up the installer. So I went back to PCLinuxOS 2009, and that installed perfectly, although the option to use an external monitor probably doesn't work (although I have yet to try it).
With 8 times the memory, a 6 times bigger hard disk, and the internal network card fitted, that laptop has gone from marginally useful to a very useful piece of kit. With only an 800 MHz processor fitted it is never going to be lightning fast, but it is still quite responsive, and will play most video files without difficulty - that being one of the more intensive tasks a PC can do. I further refined things by finding a useful little keyboard configuration utility that allows the special keys, volume up and down, stop/play/pause etc, to work when booted into linux (the default option).
I now look forward to showing it off to my workmate who originally brought it in (and who was on holiday while all my improvement works went on). I believe it was originally his sisters laptop. She gave it to hime, but he was not impressed with it, and so gave it to another of my workmates. He didn't think much of it so gave it to yet another of my workmates, and in turn he passed it on to me.
I was the only one prepared to spend any money on it. The most important thing was the extra memory. I had some already, but I also ordered some for it before I realised I had what was neccesary. I think I paid about £30 for the 1 GB of memory I ordered, but that was double what I actually fitted. So let's say I would have had to spend £15. The new hard disk wasn't absolutely neccesary, but it did give me more room to experiment. That cost £40. Finally there was the internal network card. Once again it was a convenience rather than essential, and that cost just £7. I can't remember how much postage charges were for those three items. At least one was zero postage, and maybe for another, but even being pessimistic I think I got the whole refurbishment done for less than £70, and I think it was well worth it.
After finishing work last night plan A was to pick up a copy of New Scientist, and go straight home to read it. While on the train between Waterloo East and London Bridge I received a text message from Kevin saying he could meet me in the pub if I fancied it. I did, and I went straight from Catford Bridge station to the pub. Plan B was just to have a couple of pints and then go home to read New Scientist. After the failure of plan A, plan B failed as well. I had about 5 pints and went home via the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop.
I thought I would be daring and try a Tasty Zinger Meal (or whatever it was called). This consists of a couple of rather tasty hot chicken wings, a small bag of horrible chicken shop chips, a rather unpleasant chicken burger type thing, and finally a container of some revolting cold brown liquid alleged to be diet cola. I liked the chicken wings, but the rest I could definitely not recommend to anyone unless they hadn't eaten for a week. Even then the cardboard box may have been more pleasant than most of the meal. In future I'll stick to plain old fried chicken. It may be extremely unhealthy, but overall it tastes pretty good.
This morning I was up early after getting to bed past 10 pm last night. I fed Smudge some food she actually liked this time, and then had a shower. It was still rather early in the morning, about 6 am, and I wondered why I had got up so early when I could be in bed catching up on my sleep. So I went back to bed where I eventually fell into a deep sleep until I woke up again at about 8.30. That seemed a pretty reasonable time to get up, and so I did get up. Quite what I will be doing once I have finished this is still a mystery. It looks too miserable to go out. So I reckon I will catch up on some more reading, maybe have another snooze, and see what's on TV.
|Friday 22nd January 2010|
This morning is relatively mild, but it is also very overcast, and there was rain earlier on. Fortunately it had stopped before I left to come to work, but it looks like there could easily be more rain later. This is a far cry from yesterday when, against all expectations, the sun came out for a couple of hours in the afternoon. From the look of the sky it seems highly unlikely that will happen today, but maybe it's some sort of compensation that the temperature could get as high as 10° C today. Personally, I would rather have the sunshine.
I didn't get around to writing anything yesterday morning, and I felt too irritable to write anything last night instead. Yesterday was definitely a day of ups and downs. Work was occasionally busy, but there were also periods where I had time on my hands. I put that spare time to good use though. I have been given yet another laptop, and it has needed some tender loving care.
I first started working on the laptop, a Dell Inspiron 2500, on Wednesday. As received it was running Damn Small Linux, which was just about the only flavour of linux that would work on it - mainly due to only 64 MB of memory being fitted. It's a fine distribution, but with more memory an 800MHz Pentium 3 based laptop could do far better. So I rummaged around and found a couple of 256 MB sticks of SODIMM PC133 memory. With those fitted and working I installed Xubuntu 7.04 linux. It installed OK and the laptop came to life. Unfortunately that version of Xubuntu is no longer supported, and I couldn't find any working repositories of new software.
Next I installed Kubuntu 8.04 (because I had a copy lying around). That is still supported - just - but comes with a fateful flaw. For reasons that still baffle me, it really doesn't get on with onboard Intel graphics chips. I started out with a screen resolution of 800x600 instead of the 1024x768 that should be used on the laptop, and by the time I had finished configuring the graphics settings it was down to 600x480. Well that was just about unusable so I deleted Kubuntu and installed PCLinuxOS 2009.2. It installed beautifully, and worked a treat.
To improve the laptop still further I had a look around Ebay for some bits and pieces. I ended up using the "Buy Now" options (for speed and no mucking around) and ordered three items (or 4 if you want to be pedantic). The first was a new, allegedly unused, 60GB hard disk that may in fact have been used, but was 6 times bigger than the original, and as I found out yesterday, worked perfectly. The second item (or items) was a pair of 512 MB memory sticks that I may decided to use, but ight use elsewhere. The last item was a combined modem and network card. It is not exactly designed for this model of laptop, but at only £6.99 (and no p&p) it was worth taking a chance to get an internal network card instead of using my spare PCMCIA network card. I am hoping it will arrive soon so I can see if my gamble has paid off.
To my surprise the new hard disk arrived yesterday just a day after ordering it. With 60 GB to play with I thought I would get creative. Some versions of the laptop had Windows ME installed, and some had Windows 2000 installed. My one has a Windows ME licence on it, and so I set about installing Windows ME on the first 8 GB of the hard drive. I downloaded all the drivers from Dell's website, and installation went smoothly right up to the point where I tried to install the drivers for my PCMCIA network card. Of course it would have helped if I had brought the right driver disk with me. I was trying to install the drivers for my other PCMCIA network card, and Windows wouldn't stop moaning about it. Having brought in the correct driver disk this morning, I have completed the installation, and Windows ME is working well - so far !
One of the problems with installing Windows ME is that everytime you install virtually anything you have to restart the computer. With a brand new, fresh installation, that meant restarting a lot, a bloody lot !!! I am not sure if the annoyance of that counteracted the jubilation of the sunshine, but by the time I got home I was feeling really tetchy. I was tired, and during the day I had been feeling sort of, but not exactly, ill. I went home via Tesco, and got annoyed in there, They didn't have the latest edition of New Scientist (that I had been looking forward to), and that got me thinking about other stuff they didn't have. They only stock one flavour of Peperami - just the plain one and not the hot, very hot, or barbecue flavours. I know they are very unhealthy eating, but it's still bloody annoying. They had new boxes of very cheap mens jeans on display, but of course only in the smaller sizes, and at least one assistant in there says that they are no longer going to stock any means clothing beyond socks and underpants. This too is bloody annoying. Despite all the stuff they don't sell I still manged to buy too much in respect of the weight I would have to carry home.
I was tired before I started shopping, and by the time I had lugged 8 litres of Diet Coke, and a 6 pack of tins of catfood, plus other weighty stuff home, I was feeling really rather past it. It made me feel very tetchy, and I took my anger out on the cat. Poor Smudge was forced to try and eat some really disgusting Whiskas tuna supermeat because that is all I would give her.Of course when I had opened the tin in the morning it had been really nice, but having the same food twice in a row undermines her whole dignity. Later on in the evening, when she could barely stand because of hunger, I relented and opened a tin a Kitecat turkey flavour.
Smudge did not have to wait too late in the evening before she was fed something she approved of because my evening was actually quite brief. I started to make tracks for bed soon after 7.30 pm, and by 8.30 pm the light was off and I was fast asleep. I do feel better for it this morning, and maybe it's the best I have felt in the morning for much of this week. I am still looking forward to a thoroughly lazy morning tomorrow though.
Today, in between my real work, or the work I am actually paid for, I will install Windows 2000 in the next 10 GB of hard disk space in my new laptop. If that goes quick enough, and I still have time, I will then install Linux in the remaining space on the hard drive. I am not sure whether to use PCLinuxOS 2009, or Pardus linux. It was Pardus that worked so successfully on what was to become my media player PC before the Xbox took it's place. Like the laptop, the media player PC had an onboard Intel graphics chip, and Pardus was the only linux distribution that configured it perfectly.
Tonight I will have another go at getting the latest edition of New Scientist. Maybe I will get it at Waterloo East station as I have several times before when I didn't need to do any other shopping. If I do get a copy I will spend most of the evening reading it, and then I'll go to bed.
|Wednesday 20th January 2010|
The threatened snow has not happened this morning - yet ! As I write these very words something wet has hit the window. Maybe it is about to begin........................... At that point I nipped outside for a fag. It is darker outside than when I first arrived at work an hour ago, but it's only rain falling out of the dark turgid sky. Maybe there will be some snow later, but it seems unlikely now. The latest weather forecasts suggest that the weekend will be warmer than most of this week will have been, but it will still be overcast, or gloomy with the added misery of rain. After that it is set to turn colder again !
Yesterday was very cool and grey, but it did stay dry. I was encouraged by one thing. It is now only twilight when I get home from work. In another week, maybe two, I will be getting home in broad daylight, and if the sun was able to shine it would feel really good. To be able to leave home at 06:20 am, like I did this morning, in daylight would be even better !
When I got home last night I ate the chicken and mushroom stew I had prepared the previous night. there was nothing wrong with it, and it was tasty, but somehow it failed to excite me. I am not sure whether I can blame to unexcitingness of the stew, but I really felt the need for something more, as in more exciting, a bit later in the evening. The excitement came from some Cointreau liqueur chocolates that I had been squirrelling away in the back of the kitchen cupboard since well before xmas. They excited me alright, but of course they were terribly bad for me. It is possible, although unlikely that they made life difficult this morning. I think it is far more likely that it was the large pile of fruit I carried to work this morning, and the steel toecap shoes I am wearing, that all contributed to making my feet feel like lead, and my knees feel like they needed oiling as I climbed the stairs from the subway at Waterloo East station.
It is possible.........no actually it is quite probable that I will eat more of those chocolates tonight. The box is now open, and in open sight, and .............. My dinner tonight is another stew that I prepared and 95% cooked before going to bed last night. Tonight it will be another beef stew similar to the one I made on Sunday night and enjoyed on Monday night. This time I have added more chilli and less tomato, but I am hoping it will be just as delicious as Monday nights stew.
I was in bed very early last night, but after reading in bed I didn't turn out the light until 8.45 pm. I was asleep soon after, and apart from waking briefly to have a pee I slept quite soundly until a certain pussycat decided she wanted to go out at 3 am. I think she wanted to go out. Maybe she wanted to be fed, but she went out anyway ;-) It took a little while before I got back to sleep, but I eventually fell back into a deep sleep, and I most definitely needed my alarm to wake me up. Yesterday I kept dozing off during idle moments at work in the afternoon. Hopefully last nights extra sleep will keep me awake today, but I suspect I will be turning in very early again tonight.
|Tuesday 19th January 2010|
I thought it was a bit colder this morning, but now I am not so sure. It seemed unusually cold when I got out of bed, but that may just have been because I didn't put much heating on yesterday evening. After travelling in quite a warm railway carriage, and then a reasonably fast paced walk, I found myself quite damp with sweat upon arrival at work. So the chances are that it is not colder than yesterday morning, but then again, my body reactions may not be representative of the world of pure physics.
It is certainly another very grey morning, and it looks as if it will probably stay this way all day. Hopefully there wil not be too much rain. There was some fine misty rain in the air when I left home, but I think that fizzled out before I got to Catford Bridge station. The weather forecast is still suggesting there will be a lot of precipitation tomorrow, and the day after. Tomorrow morning that precipitation could well be snow, but it is likely to turn into sleet, and then just rain as the day progresses - or so the forecasters believe. Our reward for enduring this misery is for Friday to be bright and cheerful. If the forecasts are to be believed, the temperature will soar to 9° and they day could well be as good as last Sunday. Here's hoping it is !
My precooked beef stew dinner last night was rather excellent, and was almost the highlight of the evening. The thing that actively engaged my time was experimenting with my white G1 phone (the "new" one). After playing with it for some time I concluded that apart from it's somewhat rough cosmetic condition, it is in perfect working order. In some ways that raises a new headache.
One aspect of the G1 phone is that you can connect to a wifi point, and use that as the data connection. When connected to my home wifi point I can listen to Radio Caroline on the phone. The stream I use comes from http://sc1.radiocaroline.net:5560. The "5560" at the end is the port number, and on my wifi network I can use that port with no troubles. However it seems that ports above 1024 are blocked on the mobile phone network (or at least on the network I use), and so when I am not connected to a wifi point I can't listen to Radio Caroline. There are several solutions to this problem, and all involve using my stuff at home as a sort of repeater. I can't really decide what solution to use, but because I only want to be able to listen to Radio Caroline while on the move rather than really want to listen, I may eventually try a multitude of solutions just for the sheer masochistic fun of it (maybe !).
Tonight I am looking forward to my dinner again. Last night I cooked up a chicken and mushroom stew with plenty of herbs and spices in it. It ought to be delicious, and it seems that my theory of allowing the meat to marinate for 24 hours in a closed saucepan does seem to work. I don't think it increases the tenderness of the meat like conventional marinading in an acidy marinade does, but just like reheated left over Indian takeway seems better than the night before, so my marinading does seem to let the spice and herb flavours seep into the meat. (Although in the case of the leftover Indian takeaway it might just be better because the next day you're more likely to be sober, and can appreciate the flavours more).
|Monday 18th January 2010|
It was nice not having to face nut numbing cold on my way into work. It is still cold outside, but the temperature is several degrees above freezing. It is also very grey and dull outside. It should remain dry, and there is even the slim chance of a sunny period sometime today, but we are on a downhill slope again. By mid week it is possible we will see more snow, although sleet or icy rain is more likely.
The greyness of today stands in stark contrast to yesterday. With plenty of blue sky, and warm sunshine, it was a glorious day. The air remained cold, but the sunshine really did carry some heat, and with very little wind to carry the heat away I felt very comfortable as the sun heated up my dark clothing while I ambled about in the park for nearly two hours. At the end of that time I was feeling quite tired, quite warm, and when I got home I got the impression that I may have even come close to some mild sunburn. I had a very slight, but distinct feeling of tingly warmth on a few parts of my face. I guess a few months lack of practice in enduring the open air does sensitise the skin, and leave the bodies walking machinery in need of revitalisation (or something). While I was out I took my camera with me, and there is a photo page here.
This morning I had a nice surprise. My "new" Google G1 phone was waiting for me when I came into work, and I have spent a fair time setting it up. It is in very used condition, and even has a tiny crack across one corner of the display, but the good news is that it works, and works well. My previous G1 did not work on the 3G network, and so anything requiring internet data access was very slow. Apart from that it worked OK, but this new phone connects to the 3G network just fine.
One thing that contributes to the used look of the new phone is that it is a white version. My first one was black, and that hides much of the wear and tear. What I could do now is to create a sort of Frankenstein phone by using the best bits of both phones, but I doubt that I will.
|Sunday 17th January 2010|
This morning brings a respite from the terribly gloomy winter weather we have endured for the last few weeks. The sky is clear, and the sun is almost high enough above the horizon to shine, and hopefully will very soon now. Although it will be far from warm, the top temperature today could be 9º C, and that's not too bad compared to just a few days ago.
The temperature yesterday was possibly just a degree cooler than that forecast for today, but it was offset by quite a cold feeling wind when outside. Had it not been for the grey skies, and occasional rain, yesterday could have been as cheering as today should be.
On Friday I was feeling very tired, too tired to write anything here. In fact there was very little to write about anyway unless I just wrote about how badly I slept, and how Smudge woke me up at 3 am when I was getting some good sleep.
Yesterday Aleemah visited, and I was too busy trying to do some housework to sit down and write anything. This morning I have the time and inclination to write, but once again there is little to write about except to describe some dream fragments, and predict how some of today will go.
My sleep has been pretty lousy lately, but last night I did almost sleep well. I say almost because from the amount of dreaming I remember doing it is obvious that I was not in a very deep sleep. While I remember having lots of long complicated dreams, I am finding it difficult to actually remember enough details to describe.
Some of those half remembered dreams were almost lucid dreams - the type where you are in concious control of a dream. There was one dream where I tried to make a point of remembering the origins of another dream because it was really strange. I never did work out where the idea of "honey roasted dachshund" came from. It was a phrase that seemingly popped out of nowhere. The idea of basting a roasted dog with honey is not a pleasant one, but the image that seemed to come with the phrase was actually of a roast pig with wonderfully crunchy golden skin.
Maybe I was hungry in the night because another brief bit of dream I remember could also have possibly featured a sort of analogue of food. It seemed in this dream that my workplace was near an active volcano. I have no idea what I did in this building, but just outside it a volcanic vent opened up, and something that was supposed to be lava was slowly ooozing out of it. It was red, but not glowing, and it had a sticky consistency. It was also not hot enough to even singe the stick I was poking it with. In retrospect it was something more akin to popcorn, or some other cereal, coated in toffee. As I poked it a bubble grew and burst throwing some of the toffee like substance towards my face. I expected to be seriously burned. It was hot, but not agonisingly so, and as I pulled it from my face I found I could quite comfortably mold it like a clearish, but sticky, plastacine. I don't think it occured to me at the time to try tasting it, but if I had I reckon it would have been sweet.
There were other dreams I had that defy any meaningful description because my memory of them is too fragmented. One involved trains, and another involved having to move some racks made of dexion from one floor to another. That was set in a building that was a sort of hybrid between several telephone exchanges I know of, and several other places I have worked in. It is possible that it was set in the same building that was in the volcanic area, and maybe the volcanic stuff was actually part of the same dream.
On the whole, all of these dreams, including the ones I can't describe, were very enjoyable and entertaining, but morning is here now, and it's time to try and think of a plan for today. With the glare of the sun now visible just above the roofline of the local houses, and the sun itself due to appear very soon, I think I want to get out into the sunshine at some point today. Maybe I'll take a wander through the park, and I am hoping that I will be meeting up with Patricia at the far end of the park (or maybe just beyond it). Before that I need to get a little shopping in. After all that is done I may well just relax with a book that I started when I went to bed extra early last night. It is Brian Aldiss' "Space, Time, And Nathaniel" - a book I didn't even realise I had until I climbed on top of a chair to check the rather dusty very top of my bookshelves. I can't even remember reading before, but I am sure I must have. The first couple of short stories I read in bed were rather good, and I am keen to read some more.
|Thursday 14th January 2010|
If it had snowed this morning there would have been an awful lot of snow on the ground. It didn't snow, but it did rain, and an awful lot of water has come out of the sky. When I left for work it was pouring down, and under the tin roof of platforms B and C it sounded like I was underneath a waterfall. Of course the rain did not bother me that much while wearing my waterproofs, but I do get a bit hot under several layers of windproof clothing. Although I was fully protected, and just laughed at the rain, I couldn't help but wish for a warm, bright, sunny day when I could stroll into work with just a short sleeved shirt on. Ahh, those were the days !
Today may well be like yesterday (with rain instead of snow). Much of the snow had melted or turned to slush, and this was helped on it's way by the first of the rain.For a brief time the sun could be seen as a pale misty disk through the clouds, mist and murk, and maybe that made the day a tiny bit brighter, but the wet slushy pavements made my journey home fairly depressing. There were many delays, and some cancellations shown on the departure board (actually a CRT) at Earlsfield station. These were train that come from further afield, but I suspect the train I often get, and got tonight, may start at Wimbledon, just one stop down the line, and where there are sidings that the train could have been "parked" in before going in to service. So I got to Waterloo on time, and my train from Waterloo East to Catford Bridge was on time too.
There may have been something I was going to mention about last night, or even about my day at work, but if there was I can't remember what it was now. This may be partly (or even wholly) because I have been suffering from a bit of insomnia recently. Last night I may have only got about 5 hours sleep. Despite almost falling asleep at my desk yesterday I didn't feel tired during the evening - except maybe for one brief moment when it was far too early to go to bed (6 pm !). Ideally I should have just gone to bed at about 8 pm regardless of whether I felt sleepy or not, but I didn't, and it was gone 10 pm before I was finally in bed and asleep.
If I had slept right through until my alarm woke me at 5 am I would probably be OK, but that didn't happen. At 3.40 am I was woken up by a very insistent Smudge. Once awake I had to get out of bed to have a pee, and so I attended to Smudge's needs before going back to bed. It didn't seem like I would ever get to sleep, and it was only the fact that I woke up when my alarm finally went off that proves I did actually fall asleep at some point.
I guess that today I will suffer even more from drooping eyelids during periods of low activity than I did yesterday. I hope I can rectify some of this lack of sleep tonight. On my way home from work I shall pick up the latest edition of New Scientist. It's always nice to read in bed, and so I will take the magazine to bed extremely early in the evening. Maybe that could be as early as 7 pm. If that is so it is possible that I may be fast asleep by 8 pm. Then all I have to hope is that Smudge doesn't succede in waking me up at some uneartly hour in the morning.
|Wednesday 13th January 2010|
Had I been able to write anything yesterday I would have commented that the snow that fell on Monday morning had just about melted in Earlsfield, but it was slightly different in Catford. The road leading to the station, or more precisely the pavement on the western side, still had a good covering of compressed snow, and other assorted types of ice on it when I went home on Monday. It was still there when I walked to the station yesterday morning. Apart from a few frosty flakes lurking in sheltered corners all the snow had gone from Earlsfield by last night.
This morning was a different story ! I noticed some slightly sleety rain falling before I went to bed last night. When I woke up there was a good inch of snow on the round. As left home to come to work there was a minor blizzard, and the snow is still falling here in Earlsfield. I am not sure what the weather forecast says about today, but it looks as if the snow could be falling for some time yet. Maybe the snow will turn to sleet, and then maybe to rain if the day warms up a bit. I estimate that the temperature now is only just freezing, and possibly a whole degree above freezing.
I didn't get to write anything yesterday because I was doing some heavy downloading, and with my web pages already downloading extremely slowly I didn't want to make things worse by attempting to upload stuff. Or maybe it would have just been too tedious waiting for my edits to crawl accross my internet connection to bother to write anything new. Not only that, but I had little to say anyway. Nothing much went on Monday, and nothing much went on yesterday until the evening.
It was not long after I got home from work that I checked a few things on the internet. One of those things was another G1 mobile phone on Ebay. I had bookmarked it a few days earlier, and I got curious about how the bidding for it was going. It turned out there was just 13 minutes to goto the end of bidding. At that point I had not entered a single bid for the phone, and with the top bid at £100 it had already hit about my maximum. Knowing the popularity of those phones I thought that I would easily be outbid if I decided to start bidding on it, but out of curiosity I entered a maximum bid of £105 and went away to cook my dinner. Maybe 20 minutes later I came back and was very surprised to see I had won the auction for £102. Well, £102 is within a mere 2% of my self imposed maximum, and well within experimental error. So I feel rather happy that I have another G1 phone on it's way.
The "new" G1 is white instead of black, and that's sort of nice. It is also allegedly unlocked, and so that's another £13.78 I don't have to pay. Now all I hope is that this phone works OK on 3G connections - which is the main cause of my disatisfaction with my current G1 phone. Of course unless I become a heavy user, having a working 3G connections is only essential for when showing off and bragging about the phone. For the more occasional time I use the data connection I am usually patient enough to wait for the data to come across the slow 2G airwaves.
|Monday 11th January 2010|
Before going to bed last night I took one more look outside as I let in a cold and damp Smudge cat. Most of the snow seemed to have melted away, and it seem to be raining. So it came as quite a surprise to find that it was all white again outside when I woke up this morning. There was probably less than half an inch of slightly damp snow, but it was enough to totally cover the pavements and road outside my house (apart from some tire tracks).
It did feel less cold last night compared to recent nights, and I felt fine turning all the heating off sometime before I went to bed. On some nights I have even left my rattly old fan heater running at low power in my bedroom because it has been so cold. This morning the temperature is very slightly above freezing, and with no wind it doesn't feel bone numbing cold. If the temperature rose by a few more degrees I might even describe it as mild outside, although obviously in this case it is a rather comparative term. It is most definitely cold outside, but it is not a painful sort of cold.
It looks as if it is going to be rather grey and overcast today. Maybe there could be another sprinkling of snow, but if it happens during daylight hours it is likely to be more like sleet or even just plain old rain. I think the longer term forecast is that we could get a bit more snow, possibly just sleety snow, in a day or two's time.
I was very lazy yesterday in as much as I didn't really get up all day. In this case I define getting up as having a shower and shave. I pulled on a sweat shirt, and a pair of lounge pants, as I do most mornings while checking my email and caring for Smudge, and then, much to my shame, I stayed like that, unwashed, and unshaved all day.
In that smelly and unkempt state I did do a couple of useful things instead of going into advanced couch potato mode. One of the more important things was that I gave the fan heater in my bedroom it's annual clean and lube. With most of the dust removed, and the bearings on the fan motor oiled, it is working like a dream. Of course it still rattles as it has always done as far back as my memory can manage. It certainly rattled during the days when it was in my recording studio in the late 1970s, and I have the very faintest of memories of it rattling when it was used in the hallway of the house during the big freeze of 1963. I can't be exactly sure that it definitely dates back as far as 1963, but at the very minimum it is 40 years old. In that time it has had a new mains lead fitted, and a new control switch, but everything else is original and still working well.
I managed two other big projects yesterday. The first was quite an important project. It was to do the washing up. Although they had been rinsed to removed all the easily moveable stuff, there was cutlery in the bottom of my sink that had been there since xmas day ! That cutlery, along with all the plates, pots, and pans is now all sparkling clean, and the sink is clear for the process to start all over again :-)
My other project, and one that took a lot of my time, was to completely re-install the opearting system and applications on my G1 mobile phone. It was a scary thing to do, and at one point I thought I had "bricked" (rendered useless) the thing. Happily it all went well, and the phone works as well now as it did before. Unhappily it has proved that a fault with the phone almost certainly resides in the hardware and not in the software. Whenever I turn on 3G (fast) internet connectivity I lose all service on the phone. With 3G turned off everything works as it should, but my internet connectivity is limited to something not that much better than a really fast dial-up service. However, even in that state the phone is quite useable, and still very useful. I am now keeping my eye out for a potential replacement for the phone, but I want to be sure of getting another good bargain if I do go down that route.
|Saturday 9th January 2010|
It is bright and sunny right now, but there seems to be a little extra dusting of snow on the ground this morning. There were a few very sparse showers of snow yesterday. They may no noticeable difference at the time, but it does look as if there may have been one or more slightly heavier falls overnight. From the look of some of the clouds it is quite possible there will be more snow today, but the weather forecasts suggest that tomorrow will bring heavier snow falls.
My journey home from work last night was a little less stressful than the journey into work, and a fair bit less stressful than my journey home the previous night. I did attempt to board the Sevenoaks bound train on platform C last night, but after running up and down the platform (litterally) I decided that there was no way that I was going to barge onto that heavily overloaded train. The next train to depart was from platform A, and that meant diving down into the subway, and then up the stairs to platform A. To my surprise I found getting up those stairs to be easy. Even on a good day it usually feels like hard work, but to feel easy after running up and down platform C seemed quite strange. I thought I was running on empty before I had even reached the station, but apparently not.
The first train into Platform A was bound for Orpington, and it was barely half full. I was only going to the next stop, London Bridge, so I didn't bother sitting down, but there were still seats available had I wanted one. At London Bridge I took a gamble that the Hayes train (calling at Catford Bridge) would be 10 cars long like it had been the previous day. Other people were less confident about it so the crowds were distinctly thinner at the far end of the platform. I didn't manage to position myself in the right place to be first through the opening doors, but if I had I could have got a seat, but at least it wasn't over crowded as I stood near the doors on the way back to Catford. By a bit of carefull shuffling about I managed to position myself to be first out of the doors when we arrived at Catford, and even better than that was that the doors of the train were directly opposite the way out of the station. So I had a clear run to be first out of the station where I could finally have a fag.
That journey home was not bad, but there were better things to come. No sooner had I put my dinner in the oven when I got a call from Kevin to enquire if I fancied a pint in The Ram. It seemed like a good idea, and 15 minutes later I was enjoying the first of two pints of Winter Warmer. If I had not left my dinner cooking in the oven I think I would have stayed for another couple of pints, and then done something gross like buying a bucket of fried chicken to take home for dinner.
Instead of a huge greasy pile of fried chicken I had a couple of Tesco pasta based ready meals, and they reinforced my idea that I don't really care for pasta that much. I can cook some nice stuff using pasta (that is "nice" according to my warped ideals), but most pasta dishes seem rather bland to me. The three I had (two didn't seem quite enough, but three was actually a little too much) were blandly pleasant, but were just unexciting. Maybe it is the pictures on the packet that raise my expectations too much, or maybe it is because traditionally they don't use chillies in pasta (but I do sometimes), or maybe it is just me, but I definitely could not get excited about them. Tonight I think I have a yearning for something like a huge chicken kebab with plenty of chilli sauce !
I'm not seeing Aleemah today because the weather is so bad. I am not sure what I will do today, but I have done a tiny bit of creative work. I've made a new web page with a few random photos on it. They are mainly photos that I should have included here, but I never really got around to including them. Take a look at them here.
As I finish writing this the sun has gone in and I have just seem a flurry of snow blowing past my window. It has almost stopped again now, but initially looked to be building up to blizzard proportions. It seems unlikley that was a one-off performance and I am feeling that I ought to get out and do some shopping before the main performance starts !
|Friday 8th January 2010|
Once again the temperature plummetted overnight. I don't know what the minimum was, but figures as low as -6° C were being suggested on earlier weather forecasts. The one thing I can say with absolute accuracy is that the temperature earlier on was below zero, and that meant that any untreated roads or pavements were solid ice as I made my way to work. I came closer to falling several times, but regained my footing in time to prevent any undignified action.
There is a fair bit of cloud in the sky now. Some patches of sky are still blue, and we will probably get some sunshine at some point, but it is also possible that we may get further falls of snow today. Some weather forecasts uprate the risk from possible to probable.
I had another miserable journey home from work last night, and it could have been worse than it was. I meant to leave early last night, but in fact left a tiny bit later than usual. After a relatively slow walk, over very slippery pavements, to the station, I found that several trains were either delayed or cancelled. Fortunately the next train due was actually on time, and it got me to Waterloo East on time. It was there that the most miserable part started. Southeastern trains were (and are) still running their "snow timetable", so I had to go to London Bridge and change there for a Catford Bridge bound train. Knowing that they are only every 30 minutes, and arrive at London Bridge soon after the hour and half hour, I had plenty of time to spare. I bought myself a copy of New Scientist and a couple of rolls from the station cafe before boarding a Sevenoaks bound train. It was pretty full, and I had grave doubts about being able to actually get off the train at London Bridge if the doors opened on the other side to where I was crammed in. Happily, after such an uncomfortable experience, the doors opened on my side, and I was almost the first off the train.
I crossed the footbridge over to platform 1 where my next train was due in about 15 minutes. Under normal circumstances the train I had just left would have been departing by the time I had changed platforms, but not this time. It was so crowded that to close the very last pair of doors one of the platform staff had to resort to the Japanese practice of physically shoving the last body through the doors so they could shut. Only then did it set off (probably leaving a trail of human juice behind). From that perspective my journey was not so bad, but I still hated it. That 15 minute wait on the platform followed by standing up all the way to Catford in a mildly packed train set off a pain in my right thigh that I have only very rarely suffered from in the last 10 or 20 years. ( I used to suffer it very frequently once upon a time). I think it is sciatica, but I can't be sure because no doctor has ever known that I sufer from it).
By the time I got to Catford Bridge I was feeling really rather pissed off. I had endured slippery pavements, long cold waits, crowded trains, and finally my right thigh was really painful. On top of that I was tired from several earlier late nights. In an ideal world I would have gone to a pub and sunk several pints of very strong winter ale, but I just went home as fast as the slippery ground would let me. Once I started walking the (what I shall call) sciatica started to wear off. After a minute or so of walking it felt like my thigh was fiery hot, and than in the next few minutes that subsided to just a gentle sort of ache to remind me of what had been there before. Once I was home even that gentle ache faded away (but possibly only after I had sat down for a little while).
Last night I did manage to get to bed on time, but not the early night I really wanted. I slept well until at 3.40 I was woken up y Smudge. I couldn't tell if she was just feeling hungry or wanted to go out. I knew that she had had a good pee last night because she decided it was too cold to do it outside, and used her litter tray instead - and missed it ! Thank goodness the cat litter I use is extremely absorbent, and will mop up any spills in seconds. I put a little food out for Smudge and watched her eat it, She only ate a little and it became obvious that she did need to go out. Once outside I didn't give her any chance to change her mind and shut the door behind her. I was back in bed, and maybe even asleep again before 4 am. An hour later I was up again to prepare for another arduous journey to work.
I won't attempt to describe this morning's appalling journey because it was very similar to last nights, but in reverse. However I will add that just like last night when I was 45 minutes late getting home, I was also 45 minutes late getting into work.
|Thursday 7th January 2010|
All the snow that fell yesterday has turned to ice. Some roads, and in particular the road from home towards the station, are like sheets of glass. I felt very unstable in a few places, but fortunately arrived at work cold, but intact. Temperatures plunged well into minus figures overnight, and although today may be largely sunny, the temperature will struggle to get much beyond zero (Celsius).
The snow that fell in the early hours of yesterday became very soft and slushy by midday. As I walked to Tesco to do some shopping I found many roads were virtually free of snow and ice. All that was to change soon after I got back home from shopping. At first a few isolated snowflakes fell, and as the afternoon progressed the snow became heavier and heavier. At one point it was like a blizzard outside. Then sometime in the early evening it just stopped. I don't think any has fallen since, but it was enough to make sure that the roads were perfectly covered with snow.
Apart from my shopping trip I spent a fair amount of time amusing myself with my G1 mobile phone yesterday. I do love that phone, but there is one annoying feature about it. One of it's facilities is that you can use a local WiFi signal for very fast data connections, or at least you should be able to do so. On mine it doesn't seem to work, and reading through many online forums it seems that it doesn't work for a great many other people. In those forums various suggestions were made for possible cures for this problem.
Some people suggested that it might be the wireless access point that was at fault. So I tried out my spare wireless router (a D-Link DI-624) that I had originally found in a skip, and didn't think much of when I originally tested it. Having now retested it I have found two annoyances with it, but no actual problems. I have also discovered something good about it. The first annoyance is that it seems non-intuitive to set up (or maybe I have just grown too used to the set up screens of my other wifi point). The second annoyance is that the 4 wired ports it provides do not allow pass through of DCHP (automatic address configuration) from the DCHP server in my firewall. It insists that either it provides the DCHP service, or you manually configure any computer connected to it. Ultimately this is of little consequence because I have no need to wire any computer to it. Funnily enough, anything connecting via wireless does get it's ip address from my firewall's DCHP server.
Those were the negative things, but the positive thing is that it seems to give a more reliable wireless connection. When I connect my Palm T|X pda to it I find that I can listen to a perfect, uninterupted, internet radio stream. On the old wifi point I would get frequent pauses as the buffers in the Palm run out of data before they can be replenished.
Changing wifi points did not help my G1 phone though. I have a few theories about why it doesn't work, and all of them are without any serious foundation, or based on any known facts. they are just the result of gut instinct and a vivid imagination (probably). I am sure that when I first tried the phone, before I put a sim card into it, I could connect to the wifi point here at work, and I could do anything that needed a connection to the internet. It may be that using the cheap and cheerful Virgin Media simcard, that currently provides my mobile service, has somehow locked down some of the options. What is worse, assuming this wild speculation has grounding in reality, is that even removing the simcard has not restored all the data connection options. What I am hoping for is that once I get a full featured simcard installed, and hopefully that will be very soon, it will restore all the data connection options.
Somehow I didn't manage to get to bed early again last night, and I did feel rather rough this morning. Nevertheless I woke up at 5 am as usual, and I was ready to go to work on time. Southeastern Trains are still running their dubious "snow timetable" and my first train was scheduled for 07:08. I was at the station in plenty of time, but predictably the train wasn't. It arrived about 15 minutes late, and to my amazement it wasn't over full. It was a lousy class 376 train, so I had to stand all the way to London Bridge, but at least it wasn't crush loaded. As we approached London Bridge the driver announced that the train would be terminating there because the train ahead of had broken down just outside the station (fortunately on the far side). That didn't worry me because I had to change there anyway, but it left a lot of other passengers feeling very pissed off. From London Bridge onwards, my journey into work ran quite smoothly.
|Wednesday 6th January 2010|
There was no snow while I was at work yesterday, and there was none in the evening, but sometime during the night it did start to snow. This morning there is a rather disappointing half to threequarters of an inch of snow. More snow is expected around lunchtime, but I don't know if Catford will get that much. Other parts of London have had much more snow, and the south western suburbs have been quite hard with eight or more inches of snow.
With so little snow around here you might be forgiven for thinking that the trains would be little affected, but you would be wrong ! Southeastern Trains got off to a good start by adopting their emergency snow timetable before any snow had fallen. From the very sparse information that I heard, it seems that frozen points at the Grove Park depot meant that they were unable to get enough trains out to service last nights rush hour. When I got to Waterloo East on my way home last night I found the next train to Hayes had been cancelled so I took the first train to London Bridge where there was a chance that I might get a train out of Cannon Street station. The first of those seemed to have been cancelled, as had the next one from Charing Cross (where the trains at Waterloo East come from). At about 5:16 pm, or some 25 minutes after I could have potentially been at home, a train from Cannon Street did arrive, and before it departed it was very full, but surprisingly not crush loaded. It was obviously very delayed because the platforms announcements said there was another Hayes train expected in three minutes.
This morning, things are no better, and in some ways worse. Trains from Catford Bridge are only running to Cannon Street, and to get to Waterloo East means changing at London Bridge. So there are half the trains running, and to make things worse they are short formed. To add to the misery there seems to be some problems in the Elmers End area (probably deeper snow causing traction problems), and so the timetable is very erratic. After a long wait my back started to get quite sore from standing around in the cold, and the train was so full that there was zero chance of getting a seat. So I gave up, came home, and phoned work to say I was taking the day off. I think it will be recorded as holiday, but I may be lucky and get it recorded as an "adverse weather conditions" grace day, although in the current economic climate that is unlikely.
I am not sure what I will get up to today. I think I will go out with my camera once it gets a bit lighter (assuming it does), and see if there are any interesting pictures to take. Another thing that it is still giving me entertainment is my new G1 Android phone. I didn't let it keep me up too late last night, but even so it scuppered any chance of an early night. I have found loads of free applications for the phone, and many are even useful ! There is one other thing I can do today that is related to the new phone, and that is to catch up on a little bit of the sleep that it has caused me to lose. Maybe it will take the form of a lunchtime snooze, or maybe I might lie on my bed soon, and see if I fall asleep, but I might have left it a bit late for that now.
|Tuesday 5th January 2010|
It's still freezing ! I woke up to yet more frost this morning. On a normal day there would not have been any frost because it was cloudy overnight. That cloud is getting thicker, and the forecast is that we shall see some snow today, and probably more tomorrow.
I've left it a bit late to write much this morning. I have been very distracted playing with my new toy. It is the Android G1 mobile phone that I bought via Ebay. I am happy to say that it seems in perfect working order, but I am still having some problems with it.
I am currently using it with a Virgin Media simcard that is compatible with the T-Mobile network that the phone is currently locked to. Unfortunately it rather slow, and at home the connection/signal is patchy. Another problem, and one that has been remarked upon in several forums, is that WiFi connectivity is very hit and miss. I can connect to my WiFi point at home, but there is no data throughput. Some say that it is an issued being addressed in future updates, and I may well be brave and try some "bleeding edge" software/firmware updates sometime soon.
Playing with my new toy made me very late for bed last night in direct contradiction to my stated intention of getting an early night. So this morning I definitely felt tired, and I also had a few aches. It was a relief to get into work and turning the heating up full. Tonight I really must get to bed on time, or preferably early !
|Monday 4th January 2010|
This morning is not cold and frosty, it is very cold, and very frosty. Even the frost has frost on it ! I believed that the forecast said there was a chance of light snow this morning, and it did seem to be getting quite cloudy before the sun set, and the light failed yesterday. That cloud must have disappeared overnight and left the world (or at least my little bit of it) exposed the cold universe, and temperatures plummetted. I have no idea how low the temperature got, but I would take a guess at something like -4° C.
It is starting to get noticeable that the days are getting longer again. Apart from a very bright half moon in the sky when I left home to come to work, it was obviously still dark, but it is light now, or almost light. I think there is some high mist that is blocking some of the sunlight right now. Last night I did notice that there was still a lot of light left in the sky at 4.30 pm, but it rapidly disappeared. That should mean that half my journey home tonight will be done in daylight. The last of the daylight should just be evaporating while I wait for my train at Waterloo East to take me back to Catford.
About the only thing of note that I did yesterday was to meet up with Patricia for a short drink at lunchtime. I sent her a text late in the morning, and I had a long wait until she replied. It turned out she was being very healthy by swimming in Ladywell swimming pool. That was sort of handy because she was already close to the pub, but with the very little warning she gave me we arranged to meet in the park.
It was quite an effort to grab my stuff and then do a high speed walk through the park, but I made it. I found Patricia at the far end of the park on one of the seats that overlooks the new duck pond. After such a rush it was nice to sit down and get my breath back for a few moments. I guess we sat there for 3 or 4 minutes, but that was quite enough time for the cold, almost frosty, seat to start to chill my bottom ! So we headed off to the pub. Patricia had a cup of tea (yeauuurgghhhhhh!), I had a pint of beer, and that's all we had.
After our drinks we headed oof in our own directions. Patricia was off to see her sister, and I was off to meet up with a very large sweet potato I had left baking in the oven. I served it with a tin of chilli con carne, and it was nice. It would have been much, much nicer if I had made my own chilli con carne, but the tinned stuff is just about acceptable, and it was the "less than 5% fat" version. I don't think I quite have the discipline to make my own low fat chilli, and I would almost certainly have made a far bigger portion than contained in the tin. I did have some vague idea that I might not eat anything else apart from some fruit after eating that big dinner. That almost happened, but didn't (!).
I am not sure if it feels good to back at work or not. The commute into work certainly gives me more exercise, and being at work keeps me away from food. So maybe I can continue to try and avoid some food that I might otherwise eat. On the other hand, when I get home tonight I will be hungry, or worse than that, I will be cold and hungry. Maybe a couple of bowls of hot soup is called for. One thing is for certain, or as certain as these things can be, I will be going to bed quite early tonight. Getting up this morning was easy, but after I had washed and shaved I did feel a strong desire to go back to bed. I will try not to think about it, but I would not be surprised if I am feeling tired by this afternoon, and here at work I can't easily have a nap like I can at home.
|Sunday 3rd January 2010|
By some accounts this could be the last of the bright frosty mornings. Some cloud is allegedly on it's way, and maybe tonight, or maybe as I make my way to work tomorrow morning, it could even snow. If it does snow it may only be a light dusting, but less than a millimetre is all it needs to stop the trains running for a fortnight.
So far I have not done very well in my efforts to resynchronise myself to the working day. Last night I did not get to bed until midnight, and that's three hours too late. This morning I did not wake up until 6 am, and that's an hour too late. Tonight I must be in bed, and if possible, asleep by 9 pm ready to rise again at 5 am. I definitely will get up up at 5 am. Of that I am sure, but hopefully I won't go through the day in a daze because of lack of sleep.
Another epic fail yesterday was to control what I ate, and how much I ate. Of the latter, I did have a very hearty sort of brunch, but I didn't eat any great portions after that. What I did eat, and should not have because of the high sugar content, was some mince pies. While shopping in Tesco I noticed that they were selling off the last of the xmas mince pies for a third of the price. I am not all that keen on mince pies, but at that price I was suckered in to buying a pack. I got as far as sampling three of them before deciding that they were not all that wonderful, but as predicted, merely OK.
I seem to have bought more stuff from Ebay. This time it was a couple of cheap items, and I used the "buy them now" option. They were both remote controls. One for my TV and one for my ancient Ondigital (now Freeview) set top box. My Tv is made by Sony, and uses a fairly rare remote control. Apart from some of the early Sony TVs, virtually any Sony TV remote control will work the basic functions (channel changing, volume, teletext) of any Sony TV. Most will even work the menu functions, but my TV needs a rare button. As well as the red, greem, blue and yellow teletext buttons, my TV needs a white button to access some of the menus, and in particular the tuning menu. The Sony remote control I use does not have the white button, but I do have a universal remote control that can send out the white button command, but it comes from a button that bears a totally different legend. To use it gets very complicated, and having found what I hope is the correct remote on Ebay I bought it.
I do have the correct remote control for my old Ondigital digital TV set top box, but it is in very poor shape. Currently I use the universal remote control, and it will do everything I need to control that box, but once again the legends on the keys bear no resemblance to the functions they perform. The remote I bought on Ebay is the super advanced model with a built in alphanumeric keyboard for using the obsolete Ondigital "Onmail" service (and also reported by Znet). Obviously the alphanumeric keyboard is now redundant, but it will be nice to control the rest of the box by pressing keys with the correct legend on them.
This morning I woke up from a dream that was a bit of fanciful speculation. I can't quite remember the format of the dream, but it crossed the old and the new. A long, long time ago, in the days when pirates ruled the airwaves (or something) the land based pirate broadcasters would record their programmes on C120 cassette tapes and take them out to the fields where the transmitters were. Towards the end of that golden era some pondered the possibilities of using computer technology (mp3 files) instead of the humble cassette recorder to play back those radio shows. The idea of doing very long broadcasts without changing tapes every hour was very attractive, but the prices of mp3 players with sufficient memory for (say) 12 hours of playback were prohibitive for those who ran their radio stations on a shoestring budget. Against this background I ended up dreaming about the possibilities of storing huge amounts of audio on 64 GB, postage stamp sized SD cards. I am not even sure if 64 GB SD cards exist yet, but if they do they are undoubtably very expensive compared to cheap sub 4 GB cards. I really wish I could remember something concrete about that dream, but I think it was a series of speculative flashbacks using new technology in old settings (or maybe vice-versa). I guess it was a sort of "what if" dream.
Today, apart from doing my best to be asleep by 9 pm, I have only one plan, and that is to see if Patricia fancies meeting up at lunchtime. Apart from the icy wind freezing my earlobes off, crunchifying my cheeks, and shrivelling my forehead, it looks like it would be nice to walk through the park to meet Patricia in the pub like I did a few days ago. I wonder if she is free today ?
|Saturday 2nd January 2010|
Once again, and as forecast, it is another bright frosty morning. It looks nice outside with all the blue sky and bright sunshine, but it's not so nice being outside. I haven't seen a weather forecast recently, but I am pretty sure it will be sunny all day, and tomorrow will start the same. After that is anyones guess.
Soon after I finished writing yesterday I went for my walk in the park. Half of the walk was quite nice. Everything was nice and bright, but it was bitterly cold out there, and at the far end of the park I did see some evidence of some snowfall. It was just a very light scattering of rather gritty looking snow on some leaves and in a few sheltered nooks. An earlier weather forecast had suggested that before the skies cleared the clouds would try and deposit a tiny bit of snow on some parts of London. I believe that Kent did get some more substantial snow, but here it was the lightest dusting ever.
The second half of my walk was not so good. I was starting to feel cold, and that didn't help, but the worst thing was that I was walking to the south, and the glare of the sun, so low in the sky, was just too dazzling. Instead of being able to look around, and enjoy my surroundings, I ended up looking at the ground for most of the walk back home. It was a slightly longer walk than I have done in my recent walks in the park. I guess I covered about 1.5 miles in total, and it felt OK doing it, but I was definitely glad to get home and into the warm.
Although I had some thoughts towards further tidying up, I didn't really get around to doing much at all. One thing I did do was to install Windows on my old Acer Travelmate laptop. I have offered it to Jodi, and I don't think she could cope with using Linux. In fact I don't think she can cope with using Windows, but at least she will have more people to ask for advice when it's "too difficult" (her favourite saying for absolutely anything to do with computing). Maybe I should have installed a native Finnish installation of Linux (maybe even in the Finnish language). She barely understands the Finnish language, but because many of her favourite rock stars come from Finland (Michael Monroe for instance) she has the hots for anything Finnish.
Another thing I did yesterday was to eat too much. I didn't totally abandon my diet, and I did stay clear of anything with obvious large amounts of sugar in it, but what I ate was certainly not low in fats. At the back of the freezer I found a couple of those small, CD sized, pizzas, and I cooked and ate both of them with extra cheese on. I had a three quarters empty back of grated cheese, and I had been wondering what to do with it, and pouring it over those two little pizzas seemed a good way to use it up.
Today I need to go shopping , and to top up my Oyster card. As of today we can use Oyster cards for travel on all trains in Greater London, and I can save money by doing just that when I commute to work. I probably wrote just before xmas that I found the peak time return fare from Catford Bridge to Earlsfield was £5.30, and if I did no other travelling I would save about £5 a week by not using a weekly, zone 1 - 3, travelacard. There are plenty of weeks where I don't do any additional travelling, and quite a few weeks a year where I only work for 4 days a week (bank holidays, days off, etc.). At such time the Oyster card would save even more. At other times, with the Oyster card topped up with enough credit, I would be free to make any additional journeys, and at worse the total charge for the day would be capped at the price of a day travelcard. So at last the Oyster card does make sense. All I have to remember is to not register my card that I bought with cash, and to always top up with cash so that they can not track my every movement. After all, you never know when you might suddenly decide to become a criminal or terrorist ! (and if those nazis in the Ministry Of Mind Control launch any further attacks on boozers and smokers I will be so tempted to travel to Fullchester to train to be a terrorist. Maybe I could learn to projectile vomit, and blow smoke rings onto the Ministry Of Good Health ! That would be doubleplusgood).
The other part of my shopping will be food, and that provides a bit of a dilemna. I really fancy something nice. Something meaty and dripping with tasty fat, but I really shouldn't do that. Maybe I will see something that is a bit of a compromise, but I can't think what that would be. I will get some more fruit to take to work for lunch, and maybe I'll eat some of that here as well, but I am sure that I will be getting some less than wholesome food too.
Apart from shopping, I am not sure what else I am going to do today. Probably what I ought to do is to move my new PC from it's temporary location to where my normal workstation sits, but it doesn't feel that important, and I have still to backup/copy all the old crap from the PC that still sits where my workstation ought to be. On the the other hand, there may be something good to watch on TV today...............
|Friday 1st January 2010|
So another years begins, and begins bright and frosty. It is rather marvelous to see the sun shining, and while it does, it doesn't seem to matter that it minus one or two degrees Centigrade outside. Apparently this bright, but rather cold weather could continue for a few days now.
I thought I was reasonably OK when I wrote yesterday morning, and in some ways I was, but in others not so much. I couldn't manage to force myself to go out for a walk yesterday, and by 11 am I gave up enduring feeling hungry and had some food. It took a while to cook them, but I had a heap of sage and onion flavoured potato wedges. They were some sort of novelty/seasonal flavoured potato wedges that had appeared in the shops some time prior to xmas, and I bought a bag out of curiosity and left them in the freezer. It was a little peculiar to eat potato wedges flavoured like that, and they were quite nice, but not wonderful enough to inspire me to want to buy more (although if I see them again I might do).
Eating those potato wedges did seem to have a beneficial effect on me. They didn't raise enough enthusiasm to make me want to brave the cold, damp, and grey park for a walk, but later on I did do some extra tidying up in the living room. For a long time, maybe 5 years, I have had a couple of boxes of clutter behind one of the armchairs in the living room. I didn't even realise the contents of one of those boxes. It turned out to be a huge amount of old CDs (mostly CDRs) that Steve had given me. Some were interesting and many were not. Unfortunately many were unlabled.
Perhaps the extra carbohydrates in my body set me thinking like I believe "normal" people think (or maybe it is just housewives). The theory is supposed to go that if you have stuff that you don't even remember having, then it is not worth keeping it, or something like that. Anyway, I decided to have another sort through those disks, and I ended up throwing 80% of them in the wheelie bin. While I was in the mood (perhaps deranged) I also threw out some other crap as well. Of course I know full well that in the years ahead, some of the stuff I threw away will be vital for the safety of the universe, but for that brief moment I thought that maybe the universe could look after itself.
The saddest thing about yesterdays brainstorm was that it made me realise that to complete the tidying up of the living room I will have to make space in the back room to use that to store some of the non living room related stuff that currently still resides in the living room. (Try saying that long sentence on one breath !). I have been thinking that I ought to be more aggresive in tidying up the back room, but it will mean making even more heart wrenching decisions than just throwing out some unlabled CDs. Some might say that now I am an Ebay buyer (just), I ought capitalise some of that stuff by selling it on Ebay, but I just feel too lazy to go through the process of packing and postage let alone dealing with the payments. I would rather give some of it away if I knew it was going to a good home, but there is a rather limited demand for old Pentium (and earlier) based computer stuff. However if anyone wants, say, a couple of 8 speed CD burners with an ISA SCSI card (and leads) do feel free to ask, but that is the sort of stuff that is fast becoming clutter.
While just quietly pottering around yesterday I did feel free of most discomforts apart from my lower back. That ached a bit, but I would not describe it as painful. Overall I felt rather good, but this did have a downside. My attempt to get an early night in preparation of getting back into the correct routine for going back to work, was not very succesful. I didn't get to bed until around 10 pm, and then I read in bed for sometime. I did finally get to sleep, and I may have had an hours sleep before the fireworks started as people celebrated the new year.
It proved impossible to go back to sleep while the neighbourhood sounded like it was in downtown Beirut (or would that be Baghdad these days ?). So I got up and checked my email. I also checked on a possible Ebay purchase I was considering. With the auction due to finish at 40 minutes past midnight, and on such a night as last night, I thought it might be a good time to sneak in one last bid, but the bidding had gone about £10 more than I thought it worth paying, and I gave up on the item. By 00:45 I was back in bed, and I think I was asleep soon afterwards.
An hour (or was it 2) later I was awoken by Smudge scratching at my (open) bedroom door. It seemed she was very keen to go outside. It was already very frosty outside, but I didn't wait for Smudge and went straight back to bed. I fell asleep fairly quickly, and didn't wake up again until gone 5 am when I needed a pee. While I was up I went downstairs to see if Smudge wanted to come back in. She was waiting on the windowsill, but annoyingly was quite relaxed about wanting to come back in. As I stood there shivering she had to have one last stare down the garden, and then an intense listen for any interesting noises before jumping down and coming in. I went back to bed and treid for a bit more sleep.
I didn't sleep all that well from then on, and any desire to sleep seemed to slowly evaporate as I became aware that it was getting lighter earlier than usual. The clear skies started showing signs of light well in advance of sunrise, and it seemed that at sunrise it was almost lighter outside than it had been during the gloom of the previous couple of days.
I haven't done that well in getting my body back in sync with the working day, but at least this morning I am up, showered and shampooed while writing this. I am writing this on the computer in the front bedroom. The sun is pouring in through the window, and I think I am feeling good. There is a far greater likelyhood that I will go for a walk in the park today than there ever was yesterday. I've got to wait just a little while longer while my hair dries before deciding to go for a walk, but with the sun shining as it is, and me not feeling too bad, I feel I really ought to get some fresh air before possibly doing more tidying up. Perhaps the fresh air and wide open spaces will make it easier to decide that some stuff just has to be thrown away (or maybe it won't !).