goznet ...

David's diary: June 2000

Last night was fairly good. Gill had phoned before I got in, regarding tonight's barbecue, but I got only their answering machine when I tried ringing back, though she phoned again later - while I was out again! - but left a proper message and I was able finally to speak to her a little after ten to check a couple of details. Anyway, the meal round at Martin's was fine, though there was still far too much to eat considering that I'd had quite a lunch too, but he was defeated too, so it didn't matter too much and I did try to eat all the chicken at least. We then went on to the monthly Shine prayer meeting, which was a bit low on numbers but still a useful and productive time before they go off to America for a few months. We finished in excellent time, leaving most of the evening clear, though I still didn't manage to do anything that productive - playing TOCA2 does not count - and I still somehow managed to forget to make my sandwiches for today...

Tired, hot, sniffly - both from hayfever and the tail-end of a bit of a summer cold, I think - and not terribly motivated to get into this new stuff at work, but it's almost the weekend, and with nothing specific planned at present, just as well. Last night's neighbourhood group barbecue was pretty good, meeting a good number of new people and getting stuffed with healthy quantities of food. I nipped into Kingston Tesco on the way home and picked up a tray of miscellaneous chicken pieces and dropped them off at Seamus and Gill's on the way home, to give them time to get them started in the oven before seven. Chris was main chef for the night, but I seemed to gravitate into the role for the second part of the evening, which was OK, though barbecue smoke really doesn't get on with me at the best of times, let alone at this particular time of year, so I was happy to be able to take a few breaks from it, especially as the charcoals died down and didn't require such constant attention. So, yes, an enjoyable evening, and not home too late, though midnight still defied me as far as getting to bed was concerned, but at least I was up in time for proper breakfast this morning, for the first time this week...

Well that ended up a busy evening for one reason or another, going first for a walk - including a good bit of praying, which may or may not have turned out to be extremely significant - around Furzton Lake, en route to KFC, but finding myself rather hungrier than expected ended up at the Pizza Hut next door. However I was obviously not too good a judge of that because I was defeated by a mere round of garlic bread and half a small Italian pizza, Mark gratefully devouring the other half as a midnight snack later on.

Then, back at home, on-line, and with Planetarion faulty, I decided I'd do something I'd been quite adamant I wouldn't - and that was to sign up with the Christian Matchmaker web site, who offer a free three-week trial. OK, so this was a bit more blatant, but it was after all via the internet that I first stumbled across Zoe; when one has some fairly specific requirements, sometimes it pays to look a little further afield, even if I still have mixed feelings in retrospect. And so, apart from a brief pause when Sim popped round to collect some stuff for a gig, I spent most of the rest of the evening on line, entering my details, uploading my photos, and - most importantly - messaging and chatting with people. Indeed, with that, a bit more TOCA2 and a chat with Mark, I didn't get to bed until about three o'clock...

Did I pull on my first night, I'm sure many readers are wondering? Well, no, but I did have some excellent conversations with people who were genuinely both interesting and interested, and have specifically been asked to chat again. So I will. Who knows what will come out of it, but - even if I am still a little wary of the internet in this respect - as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and even if I can just meet some new friends it will have been worth it.

Went out for a KFC lunch with Mark, then did my weekly shop up in the city centre. Nothing too exciting other than the food stuff, just a couple of magazines for me and a rather natty calculator-endowed mouse mat for a friend of ours Mark is setting up a computer for. Back at home, I finally got round to trying out the 32Mb SIMM I bought for my sound card at the computer fair last weekend, and after an initial panic, it seems to be working fine. I got a bit mixed up regarding jumper settings at first, but once that was sorted a few quick tests showed that everything's in perfect order. In my general playing around I found that the CD-ROM audio doesn't seem to work properly; I'm not sure if that's something that's developed though or something that's always been wrong, but I'll look into that another time as it's hardly a priority issue when I have a perfectly good CD player on my desk. Oh, and I only slightly sliced my finger this time - nowhere near as nastily as last time - and was able to spot where the particularly sharp metal on the PC case was, so was able to avoid further injury. Oh, and I've now managed to win on all the standard circuits in TOCA2 on novice level, so it's time to press ahead and maybe experiment with a championship race or three...

A fairly nondescript day yesterday as they go, not doing a great deal in particular, just the morning meeting - including helping set out the chairs - then a bit of web page and Javascript coding, a late lunch trip to KFC again, and my favourite pesto pasta dish for supper. Tonight's Josie's leaving party, since she's moving back to Aylesbury next weekend, so that should be quite fun though it will of course be a shame to see her go. But for now, it's time to get my head down a little - it's monthly report time, if nothing else, and it would be nice to submit it before the usual reminder gets sent out...

Josie's leaving do was low-key but good fun, with a fair turn-out of folks to see her off, and plenty of food and drink to go round. Thankfully it didn't finish too late, though any plans I had for getting to bed at a reasonable time came to nothing thanks to a combination of Planetarion and Matchmaker - and I still didn't get a chance to make my sandwiches last night, though I found a spare few minutes this morning thankfully.

I seem to be getting clumsy - or is it "coordinationally challenged" these days? - in my old age, with two disasters in the last day. First the best part of a microwaved chicken balti ending up all over the floor yesterday evening, and then most of a jar of olives and brine all over the worktop and same bit of floor this morning. No real harm done, and very little wasted in the end - thankfully our kitchen gets cleaned a lot more than many - but it's still not nice when it happens...

No chance of anything like that again today though, with tea most likely going to be at McDonalds or the Olde Swan maybe, since it's the monthly Astronomy Club meeting tonight which means working a little late, nipping out for a bit then back again for half past seven. Hmm, I suppose I could always spill my drink - though I'll be trying extra hard not to, I'm quite sure.

No further spillages, but still a somewhat chaotic evening. I'd waited about three quarters of an hour for my meal at the Swan, when one of the waitresses came over and asked if I'd ordered anything... Not a good sign, especially since I was already running late by that point. Problems with the computer system there it seemed, something I was able to sympathise with a little. Anyway, they were quite happy to give me a refund and a free packet of crisps to stave off my hunger, and thankfully there were plenty of biscuits at the Astronomy Club meeting, so I didn't starve. The meeting itself wasn't one of the better ones to be honest, with quite a low turn-out, one of the regular speakers off ill, and a frankly almost completely incomprehensible talk about the make-up of the interstellar medium. My visit to Westcroft KFC afterwards was a somewhat more successful attempt to get dinner, and I was back home a little after ten. But then half way through making my packed lunch for today there was a phone-call from a slightly distraught-sounding Gill, having real problems printing off some urgent business stuff. So as soon as I'd finished, I dashed round there - with my own printer under my arm, just in case theirs was faulty - but it seemed to be nothing too serious, just things getting in a twist through aborting print jobs half way through. So we got the stuff printed off soon enough, and had a bit of a chat about stuff, then it was about half past eleven and time I was thinking about sleep. I quickly logged on to check e-mail, Planetarion, Matchmaker and so on, and got to bed at two...

There were lots of things I was planning on doing last night, but it just wasn't to be. Instead, the sum total of my activities were a trip to McDonalds for tea, a bath and hair-wash, and a two-and-a-half hour phone call from a certain young lady I do not yet feel at liberty to divulge any juicy details about. Today's quiet, though I'm taking the opportunity to look into this science faculty multimedia thing in advance of a follow-up meeting with Jon this afternoon. My hayfever's being more than a bit annoying, having hit quite hard in the last couple of days, but I have enough medication to keep me going until the weekend, when I can get some more in of some description. I am however trying to avoid pumping my body with too many chemicals, so I have no immediate plans to go and get a month's worth of prescription tablets or anything even though I certainly could...

A not-too-eventful but decidedly pleasant evening yesterday, going round - as agreed - to see Seamus and Gill even though there was no formal neighbourhood group meeting, to sort out a couple of bits on their computer, have a natter, and then take a walk to the Barge with Seamus for a quick pint. No sign of any of the promised auroral activity after our Sun's recent major X-class flare and coronal mass ejection. The Sun has been very active for the last few days, however, so there's hope yet for the weekend and it would be wonderful to see my first aurora borealis having missed the spectacular one in April. Instead I got a fairly early night, something I've not managed that much lately for one reason or another...

It's been a quiet and largely event-free Saturday, which suited me just fine really, and tomorrow will probably end up equally as relaxing, especially with the there being no morning meeting for reasons too complicated to explain. I went out for a drink with Mark, Andy and Darren last night, which was all very pleasant, even if we did go to the Barge, where I had been with Seamus only the evening before, but never mind. I got my hair cut when I was up in the city centre today, being a little overdue for that, and now I'm stocked up with a few weeks' worth of hayfever tablets, summer really can now begin. I have no idea what the summer holds in store for me, but I have a gut feeling it may end up being a little more than I might have bargained for - and in the nicest possible way, hopefully.

Boy, what a day that ended up, with what should be an excellent weekend coming up in a week's time too as a result of another lengthy telephone call, this time at my expense. Highlights of the day were a most pleasant lie-in this morning, a nice hot bath, a long walk to and then round both lakes at Willen, a late lunch - or was it an early tea? - at Pizza Hut, and the first evening of a week of fellowship prayer meetings. Oh, and the small matter of being invited to go down to Cornwall for the first time in my life, which is of course what should be making next weekend special, if all goes to plan. More on the latter when I know a little more what's happening myself, but suffice to say that I am looking forward to it in every way, and if nothing else - though I expect a little more - I'll have got to see a new and by all accounts quite beautiful part of the country.

A quietly unproductive day, preoccupied with a few things - some positive, some a little less so, but overall on the happy side of average - and now looking forward to Pizza Hut's buffet night with Mark and Darren, followed by a little while helping Darren build his personal web site. Oh, and speaking of such things, I also finally got round to registering my new domain for my own e-mail and web site; hopefully I will have a little announcement to share on that front within the next day or so. Oh, and it's my dad's birthday today; pity when I phoned home to wish him the customary many happy returns, it turned out he's on holiday in France at the moment...

Major policy decision - do I go home to fetch my lunch, which I cunningly left on the kitchen worktop this morning, or do I have it for tea instead and risk the perils of the canteen catering? Especially given that I still feel fairly full after a good breakfast this morning and the Pizza Hut buffet last night... Well in fact my packed lunch is probably less filling than what I'd get in the canteen, so the answer is that I will indeed hop into my car in a little while and go home and get it. Gosh, the far-reaching issues that affect my life these days; isn't it scary?

Well I whizzed back home to get my lunch, zapped it in the microwave for a minute, and whizzed back to work to eat it; should have remembered to unload the washing machine while I was home, but never mind. This afternoon's "highlight" so far - apart from a rather interesting test session with the latest version of the conferencing software I still can't quite see the back of - was getting confirmation that the personal web space I ordered yesterday has been set up. However, I can't access it for some reason, even via the usual IP address for virtual servers operated by that provider, so I'm awaiting further advice on that. It should all work from tomorrow, anyway, and having installed the UDF packet driver on my DVD-ROM drive here at work - allowing me to read the CD-RW disc I use at home for my web projects - I can upload the first version of the site over my nice fast network connection rather than cross my fingers with an hour's unreliable modem connection. But anyway, until or unless I hear from the web providers, I may as well get on with the afternoon now...

What happened last night? I'm sure there was something of tremendous importance I was going to write about - maybe it'll come back to me, or maybe not... Anyway, I had my evening meal at the Olde Swan, giving them a second attempt at getting me a sausage and cheese hot hob in a reasonable amount of time, recalling my disastrous attempt a little over a week ago. This they managed, but it was the last one they had in stock and they cremated it a little, so I was both lucky and somewhat unlucky at the same time. Under any other circumstances I would probably have complained, but it just didn't seem worth it.

Back at home, I then seemed to spend an unhealthy amount of time on the phone, or waiting for other people to get off the phone - especially frustrating when I had promised to ring someone back in five minutes and ended up waiting half an hour, but that's the nature of busy shared houses. I've said it before and I don't doubt I'll say it again, but it would seem to be that a mobile phone would "pay" for itself very quickly - if only in terms of convenience, not money - much as I despise the things.

My weekend away is rapidly taking shape; having booked tomorrow off work, I'll be driving down to Cornwall just about as soon as the morning rush is over. I was going to travel later in the day, but I've decided I'll do what shopping I need to do this evening rather than tomorrow morning as I had originally planned. That will suit Jo just fine, since she's taking tomorrow off work anyway and I can hopefully arrive by mid-afternoon so long as the journey is as straightforward as I hope it will be. With the weather forecast looking to be in our favour, we've thought of a few things to do, including visiting the new Eden Project centre, but we'll largely be taking things as they come, I think. As I said before, this will be the first time I've ever been to Cornwall, so whatever happens, it should be an experience and a half, and apprehensive as I may be about it all, I am still looking forward to it muchly.

Hmm, I suspect the aforementioned "something of tremendous importance" was that last paragraph.

Well that was a rather good weekend anyway, but it'll take some writing about so I'll leave it for the moment. Suffice to say I'm shattered and sunburnt after the event, but had an excellent time in every way.

Still no sign of a report from the weekend, sorry... Last night was fun, though, with Mark's dad Ian visiting on the way back from something work-related in Milton Keynes, so we went out - with Darren too - for Pizza Hut's Monday night buffet. Stacks of pizza, garlic bread, salad and everything - and Ian paid for the lot too, which was jolly decent of him!

Then when I got in, there was a message from Gill regarding buying a few bits and pieces for a fete thing we're organising for Thursday evening, so I nipped up to the shop to do that and then spent the rest of the evening round at their house. Thankfully not too much interrogation about the weekend, though I suspect it'll come eventually once people get wind that there might be something "going on".

Speaking of which, in my e-mail this morning were a few more photos from the weekend; I'd taken a whole stack of digital pictures on Saturday and we'd transferred them on to Jo's PC to make room for Sunday's crop, but the floppy disk we copied them to for me to take home turned out to be defective. I'm pretty sure that means I've now got a complete set now, but I'll double-check tonight, since Jo had renamed a couple of them from the reference numbers originally used.

Tonight's going to be fairly busy, actually, since I also need to make a "treasure island" map for this fete thing, then Ken's invited me round later to sort out my AA membership - no, I'm not an alcoholic, it's the other AA - seeing as the RAC cover I get with my Hyundai warranty runs out today and he'll get me a good deal.

At least the weather's being a lot more bearable today after such a blisteringly hot weekend and start to the weekend, with the hottest days so far this year and the hottest nights for forty years or something. Now it's gently raining outside with the odd rumble of thunder, settling down the pollen hopefully, since that's really taking its toll on me at the moment, making up for lost time.

Ah well, I didn't get done quite as much as I'd planned last night, for various reasons, but at least I got my AA membership sorted out, even if the savings I made weren't quite as substantial as I'd hoped. I had a good chat with Ken about other stuff, while I was there, which was quite timely given a rather difficult conversation I'd had earlier in the evening. And then I had what was about my worst night's sleep in ages, losing about three or four hours thanks to an absolutely agonising stomach ache I seemed able to do nothing to alleviate. Eventually I got to sleep, but as a result I'm barely awake now, not boding well considering the day's only just started really.

OK, by popular demand - even though I must admit I don't much feel like talking about it right now - here's a little more about that weekend just gone. Yes, overall it was indeed a good weekend, which I wouldn't have missed for the world, although in retrospect it's not quite as simple as that. More on that aspect in a moment, though.

But anyway, the weekend itself... As planned, I travelled down to Cornwall on Friday, arriving there pretty much bang on schedule at about four o'clock. Jo's boys were at a birthday party she'd forgotten about before, so we had a couple of hours to spend together in peace, giving us a chance to check out a couple of quiet local beaches at Pendower and Carne. We collected the boys at about six, and I can't really remember a whole lot more about Friday evening, though I guess we spent most of it chatting. Saturday and Sunday were basically spent on a pretty manic whistle-stop tour of Cornwall, taking in such essential sights as St Michael's Mount - including a boat trip where we were promised dolphins but saw sharks - Perranporth, and the new Eden Project biome thing. The latter is something I'd certainly like to return to when it's open properly next year, regardless of whatever else may or may not happen in the meantime with Jo. I left at about six on Sunday evening and apart from getting a little lost around Bodmin, it was a straightforward journey and even quicker than on Friday.

It did end up an altogether very busy time, which in a way was a good thing, because it allowed us all to get on as the friends we were rather than pondering anything deeper too much, which would have been silly at such an early stage as I now realise. The way I saw it, barring any complete disaster, I would get to see a new and beautiful part of the country, with good company, and from that point of view, the weekend was a complete success. But as I already hinted, that's not the whole story. I had insisted that I was not at all concerned about the distance I was going to have to travel, that I could go open-mindedly without any specific agenda as such, but I'm not too convinced that was the case after all, in a typically "me" kind of way, and I fear it placed us all under more pressure than was fair.

Without going into too much detail, Jo's got an incredible amount on her plate at the moment, and is carrying some very difficult burdens and baggage from the past. She wants to make a fresh start in life, but the past is all too difficult to let go of, though I hope and pray that whoever she ends up with - and I hope she does with someone - she can do that for the sake of everyone involved. Yes, of course I hope that someone might just possibly be me - she seemed just so easy to get on with, right from the start - but that's on the basis of one weekend which was never officially intended as anything more than a bit of a break from the norm and a chance to get to know her and her family a bit.

As I've said before, I feel quite vulnerable right now, and I get the impression Jo does too, and I think we're both fairly mixed up with it, so we both need to play things carefully - but for the time being I think the best idea is to stay friends, be supportive towards each other, and not rush anything, frustrating though that may seem. After what she's been through, it does seem very early to be thinking relationship-wise again - so in some ways she is, but in other ways, not - although she's also being understandably conscious of the boys' needs. She's been put off in the past by people being too eager, and I've certainly not deliberately been so - indeed quite the opposite - but deep down perhaps I'm not being entirely straight even with myself let alone her.

But if it hadn't been for a conversation I had with Jo last night, this report would undoubtedly be a lot more upbeat. That could be because up until now I had been deluding myself again, or it could be nothing to worry about. By all accounts, Jo had a bad day yesterday - I think our weekend brought back some memories of happier times that could no longer be - but she admitted that it probably wasn't a good time to be talking about such things at all, so we didn't pursue things any further, and I needed to go and see Ken anyway so that worked out fine. But I'll persevere, as a friend at the very least, because if I can help at all, it will have been worth it.

Stomach ache's still not gone. I wish I knew what was causing it. I'm hoping it's hunger, because I plan on eating myself a little stupid tonight.

Pizza eaten, stomach seems better. Meanwhile, glad to see that at least Zoe seems to be getting back on track, even if I'm in a flat spin right now and no longer have a clue who I can really trust in this world.

Well there was at least one success from last night, and that was getting the treasure map thing done in advance of this evening's - weather permitting! - "fun in the park" event. I was going to do it on the computer, but I was glad I didn't, because that would have over-complicated things no end. Instead, good old-fashioned pen and ink came to the rescue - and although it's not brilliant, it will do the trick. Thankfully Jo wasn't completely ignoring me last night, it turned out - even if it seemed that way a little - though I do wonder what the point is in sitting on an internet chat system if you you're not in the mood for talking... Seems the bad old "time of the month" stuff was striking Jo as much as anything, something that was never too much of a problem with Zoe, thankfully. But I guess it's something us guys are pretty lucky if we don't experience the less pleasant end of from time to time - even in the best of cases - and doubly so when there are extra complications involved.

With the weather looking decidedly dodgy - intermittent torrential showers all afternoon - this evening's neighbourhood group "fun in the park" event has unsurprisingly been called off. Last night's cartography shouldn't be wasted effort, though, with another similar event coming up in a fortnight's time at a different venue, which we have apparently been asked to pool resources for now, which sounds a good idea. That's a bit of a relief in a way, to be honest, since there's other stuff I really ought to be doing - not least tidying my room, which is looking still worse since my weekend away.

Hmm, reading what will almost certainly be my last copy of Demon Internet's subscriber magazine - since I plan to cancel my ISP account in the next few days - there's a very interesting article on Lego's Mindstorms robot system. Now when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, like many children of my age I used to live and breathe Lego, so it's hardly surprising that this more grown-up version of it holds a certain appeal. Doesn't come cheap, needless to say, but looks a whole lot of fun - what's the betting that by this time on Saturday I'll be wearing slippers to protect my feet once again?

It's been a mercifully busy and sociable last couple of evenings, which has been good, giving me an opportunity to take my mind off things and - where appropriate - talk about them with others. Now it's the weekend, and a chance to relax a bit, so that works out quite well really...

I'd agreed I would go and see Seamus and Gill on Thursday evening, despite the formal neighbourhood group event having been cancelled due to the temperamental weather, and that ended up a good time with Ken, Sarah and family-to-be there too. Ken was able to assure me that he'd sent off my AA membership stuff promptly on Wednesday morning as promised, so my card and so on should arrive very soon, at least before I'm making any major trips anywhere, I'm sure. He could have given me on-the-spot membership, but the discounts wouldn't have applied, and without any urgent need for cover it barely seemed worth the substantial extra cost.

Last night Dave and I decided we'd go out and have a buffet meal somewhere, vaguely recalling a Mongolian restaurant that advertised in the local paper. It turned out to be in Bedford, rather than Milton Keynes, and took a little finding, but was well worth the visit, with excellent food and service - especially when we were the first people there, even if it filled up to packed later. Afterwards, taking advantage of the warm evening, we took a stroll around Bedford - my, there were many fine two-legged sights for Christian guys not to behold - but by the time we'd had to dodge a couple of fracases we decided discretion to be the better part of valour and headed back to the car - then got promptly lost trying to leave the town. We didn't go too far out of our way though, and saw a nice bit of twilit Bedfordshire scenery as we investigated a few country roads, before finding our bearings again and getting back home in fair time.

I plan to take things a bit easy today, though I need to go and do my usual shopping and so on - I think I'll hold off on that Mindstorms stuff for the moment, though, for various reasons - plus tidy my room and make a few updates to the Shine web site and possibly my own too. But for now, I'll slowly consider getting up, bathed, dressed and so on - there's no big hurry...

A fair weekend, not too busy, not too quiet - just right really, under the circumstances. Saturday, I got my room tidied, did those web site updates - or at least the Shine ones - did my shopping stuff and went to the pub with Mark and Andrea... Sunday, I set the chairs out for the morning meeting, got a Domino's Pizza take-away with Mark, Darren and Matt, went to the evening meeting - where I played, for the first time in a fair while - and wrapped up the evening by watching "Cliffhanger" round at Alan and Helen's. And that was about it, really, as far as I can remember. Now I'm back at work, as restless and unmotivated as ever ... and dreaming of sunnier climes, perhaps.

Just when everything seemed to be ticking over nice and smoothly on the Shine web-site front, now another complication seems to have emerged courtesy of so-called "Integrity Online" in the US. Regular readers will recall that these people made an apparently predatory registration of Shine's .COM domain name, and have tried to have us over a barrel ever since they finally and grovellingly handed it over to us. Now it seems they've got the last laugh somehow, with control of the domain returned to them without our permission - though I'm not entirely sure they realise it yet. Goodness knows how this has happened, and on the up-side, at least it means the .COM site's not actually working at all right now and that's almost certainly thanks to them, not us. Even if this was not a deliberate attempt to steal the domain back - though quite how something like that would happen by accident I'm not quite sure - it would still never have happened if they had lived up to their name in the first place, especially as a Christian company from whom we would expect better. I tell you, it's nice to think it's all peace and unity in the "Jesus camp", but the reality is quite different - and it applies to a lot more that just this particular issue, believe me. The reality is that our world is just as cut-throat as any other, and made doubly difficult by some kind of expectation that we're supposed to be nice and fluffy all the time, never get cross, and not even contemplate anything retaliatory... Trouble is, we're still human, believe it or not.

Oh great, now our web hosting company denies ever hosting the domain... I explained all, though, and I think they bought my story. Just a matter of waiting for a response from our American friends now. I tell you, when you do this kind of stuff as a goodwill thing, you really don't need this kind of hassle. I think I might well drop the Kik-start office a line about this since they've been very supportive in the past, and they ought to know anyway.

Well the latest in the apparent domain theft saga is that the .COM address now no longer points into the dark void of cyberspace but instead to Reunion's Shine pages. Now for this to happen by accident would be a billion-to-one freak occurrence, so the only logical conclusion that can reasonably be drawn is that they quite deliberately took it back, with complete disregard for anyone else in the world - especially the band themselves, half-way through a busy and already spiritually-challenging US tour right now.

Part of me says I'm furious about this and will fight tooth and nail to get it back under our control, but the rest of me says stuff it and let them keep it - though I may still have a few tricks up my own sleeves. The latter emotion is winning at the moment, especially now I have notified the relevant people that there is a problem - last time things got tricky, that seemed to be an effective course of action after all. Besides, as I said, I don't get paid to do this - and don't expect to be - and I have plenty of better things to waste my time stressing over.

If it was an issue about us not bending over backwards far enough, I'll have to go digging through my e-mail logs to find documentary evidence of the incompetence on the US side - and there was plenty of it, believe me. Of course, we will have to tread carefully, because hacking off their US record label too much wouldn't be too clever an idea... It's a tricky one, because on the one hand I believe they are being ripped off left right and centre by Reunion, but on the other hand, getting a deal with a label of that stature is no mean feat - though I wonder quite what had to be compromised to clinch it.

Oh, otherwise, last night was quite reasonable. Had tea at Pizza Hut as planned, always a nice treat, though I'm getting to be a known face there I think! Finished off writing a Perl script for my personal web pages - indeed the first substantial such script I've written from scratch, so I'm quite pleased with that. And then went to the pub with Mark, by chance finding Briony and a friend there and later being joined by Darren. No time to write an important letter I needed to do, but that can wait until this evening; even a pint of beer inside me would have made it difficult late last night. Or maybe easy. Indeed, all too easy, and then subsequently regrettable...

Oh well, it's been a singularly unexciting and unproductive day, preoccupied by yet more things, what with this continuing web-site debacle and everything. But it's just about time to go home now, so I'm beyond caring too much. There is apparently a Shine prayer meeting this evening, which I ought to go to, but I really think I've got too much to do, so I'll probably give it a miss but send Mark or someone suitably briefed on what's happening on the web-site front.

Well there's good news and bad. The good news is that Jo seems a lot more cheerful today after some real progress yesterday regarding the house she's trying to sell - she's had a little difficulty with her tenant, but now it seems she has somewhere else to move to with fairly immediate effect, so everyone ends up happy. I managed to write my letter to her last night, which should hopefully find its way to darkest Cornwall in a couple of days. It wasn't easy, and I'm not at all sure I "got it right", but it seemed the correct thing to do anyway, and if it catches her in a good mood, then so much the better! I don't expect anything from it, per se, and nothing I said should have come as too much of a surprise, but it was still stuff that needed to be said - so I did...

The bad news is that the latest Shine web-site problems are symptomatic of a level of bureaucracy I really am unwilling to get involved in. Gareth phoned me from America last night to fill me in on the details, and they really are not that pretty. Basically, Reunion's legal department have insisted that they should have complete control over all their sites. Not an unreasonable recommendation on the face of it, but not only was the site in question not theirs to have in the first place, but they also didn't have the decency to tell us what was happening until after the event - and even then, only when we nagged. I have still heard nothing directly, needless to say. I am relieved in a way that it's something well beyond my control, and not a direct result of anything I have said or done, but I think this is only the beginning of a yet longer process. The upshot of it all is that Gareth has asked again for the domain to be properly handed over to us - as we believed until a few days ago was the case before! - but that guess-who will probably have to do the donkey-work of getting it all up and running again. I don't mind so long as it's straightforward, but past experience would suggest that to be wishful thinking.

My Demon Internet account is finally cancelled, and will "cease to be" early next month. I e-mailed them last night to request it, they confirmed this morning, and I've let the bank know not to let them have any more of my money just in case it slips through the net somehow. My e-mail referred to "not needing home internet access of this nature" any more, that's to say, why should I pay twice? Of course, Demon would love to have me back, and to further that aim, my account will apparently lie dormant for a year and I will continue to receive their - actually quite reasonable - magazine indefinitely. I don't think the latter was just because I was actually quite complimentary about the magazine, which includes some genuinely quite useful and entertaining articles amongst the more predictable sycophantic stuff. Anyway, it's the end of an era, with the account having existing for about three years I guess, and belonging to various people during that time. No-one wants it now though, so it may as well go - especially when for the price of about four months' access, or even less, totally free internet access can be had for a year. Before taking the plunge with such an ISP, though, I'll set up a Freeserve account as a temporary measure, so that I can continue to send and receive e-mail for my domain ... in fact, I've just done that!

The evenings are definitely being better than the days at the moment, and yesterday was no exception.

Hardly anyone turned up to neighbourhood group in the end, but those of us who did make it still had a pleasant time, mainly talking about all things educational, for one reason or another. Oh, and the fact that our friends Ken and Sarah are getting married today, which came as a - very welcome - shock, considering it was only a little over a week ago that Ken had said they had no such immediate plans...

Then Seamus and I went up to the Bull Hotel - giving its name not only to the Cock and Bull dance band, but also the term "cock and bull story" - in Stony Stratford where one of Seamus's best friends is the manager. However it was Liam's night off at the bar, so we didn't get to see him, but it was still nice to get out for a while and enjoy some of Milton Keynes's finer brews.

I arrived back home to find myself under heavy attack in Planetarion for one of the first times, and before my modem link thoroughly died for the night - hope it works again now! - I managed to rally together enough support to completely annihilate my attacker, which should be quite a shock for him when he next checks in! For those not "in the know", Planetarion is a space-combat strategy game played over the web, currently in a beta test phase but going live properly in a couple of weeks' time. It's good fun, but be warned, it does have a rather nasty habit of taking over its players' lives... See http://www.planetarion.com if interested, anyway.

Oh, and I also arrived home to find all the windows thrown open, and the house more than a little smelly with somewhat acrid fumes. Thankfully it wasn't as a result of a CD-R cutting accident - Phil having done a little duplication of his demo CD on my machine while I was out - but rather Phil having forgotten about some soup he'd left to heat up... No real harm done, and even the saucepan was looking like it might see some further use, but the smell was still lingering this morning and it prompted Mark to check over the smoke detectors to save future hassles like that.

Today I signed away another few hundred quid on car insurance, another of those things in life we really don't have a great deal of choice about. For once, I actually renewed - or at least sort of. It wasn't actually the same policy, but something broadly comparable, for much the same price. These days we get used to no-claim bonuses counting for little or nothing compared with inflation, so I was fairly happy to cough up the asking price once I'd queried a couple of details. Taylor Price certainly seem to realise that if you offer people reasonable renewal quotes, you actually stand a good chance of keeping their business, unlike certain other companies I'll not mention by name, to save undue embarrassment to Direct Line or Kwik Fit Insurance just for example. OK, so I am sure if I had shopped around I could have undercut them, but by offering me something basically acceptable right from the start, it saved everyone a lot of unnecessary hassle.

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