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David's diary: April 2001

I can't pull any stunts in here, because it's gone midday - though I guess I could always still do something for the benefit of my American readers, even if they've got their work cut anyway out with a new president who's a walking talking fool every month of the year.

The weekend has been very good so far, I am pleased to say, and still a little more to go yet. Friday night I went with Darren and Mark to see "Miss Congeniality" at the Point - a cinema we'd not been to for a long time, but the film was on earlier and cheaper than at Cineworld, so... Has to be said that the cinema - suffering greatly as second best - was dead though, a shocking lack of customers on what should have been one of the busiest nights of the week. The film was good untaxing fun though - and as it turned out, not the only time I went to the cinema this weekend!

Saturday I was kind of expecting a quiet, uneventful day, but I guess that was just asking for a change of plan. At short notice I agreed I would meet up with Sarah - for once without children, at least her own, as it turned out - for a coffee and breakfast at Woolworths cafe, from where I went on to do my regular shopping. I didn't get the telephone cable for my parents in the end, though I've suggested they try their local Woolworths since they might sell the five-pound lead the Milton Keynes store had run out of stock of. I also noted they sell good value surge-protecting mains adapters, another reason I thought it might be a worthwhile trip into High Wycombe for one of them.

The afternoon was relatively uneventful, but then Sarah had suggested we might go and watch a film or maybe have a drink - taking full advantage of her rare weekend of freedom - eventually going for the former. "Billy Elliot" was a film we'd both somewhat secretly wanted to see but never really found anyone sufficiently like-minded to go with, so that worked out well and the film was superb, even if we did miss the first five minutes thanks to duff advertising in the local paper. We had a good long chat afterwards, but I needed to be up in good time today to play at yet another Celebration meeting, so didn't stay too late!

As for today, well Celebration was pretty good as they go, with our guest speakers being pretty lively and entertaining once they got going, talking in some depth about the missionary work they do with the Mujahidin in Afghanistan and undoubtedly educating many of us in the process about the truth about Islam and its followers. Enjoying a nice quiet afternoon now though, as I wait for a phone call from Sarah and family to say they're leaving Euston, which should give me about an hour to get ready to go pick them up from the station here. But for now, it's lunch time, so I'm going to go downstairs and see what I can rustle up!

Yesterday evening was predictable but pleasant enough - or at least most of the time - even if for once I didn't go to the evening meeting. I was really just too tired and had a bit of a headache, and I needed to be up early again this morning having not made quite as much progress at work last Friday as I'd hoped. Regarding work, someone please warn me next time I'm likely to have to convert spaghetti Fortran code - with goto statements in abundance - into Java!

Miracles really do happen, you know - and the latest one was that the software I'd been struggling with for most of today, and that I took for my boss to have a look at in the knowledge that it barely compiled let alone worked properly, actually works flawlessly. Well, almost flawlessly, with just one glitch in the student feedback needing to be tweaked, but hardly a big deal. Phil really did seem to appreciate the effort I'd put into this particular problem, which is almost certainly by far the hardest part of the package I'm working on at the moment, and I think the way I've done it should make it readily portable to other similar applications. I won't go into too many gory details, but between the somewhat hideous structure of the C++ I was working from - based on a Fortran routine Phil had written in 1978! - the lack of a comparable "goto" command in Java, and the C++ version's insistence on low-level string manipulation taking liberties with null-termination and so on, suffice to say this was no easy task. But it works! Hooray! Oh, and eat-in Ask pizza on the menu for tonight; I well may be shattered by the end of it all, but there's no doubt that this is a Good Day.

Oh, and you can add a nice phone-call this morning on to the list of things that has made today somewhat good. Of course, it will be an even better day when things advance beyond MSN chat, e-mails and phone-calls, but all in good time - and can I really bear regularly doing that M1/M25 run again..?

Boy, that pizza was nice! Think I'll be having that one again - and soon...

These early morning starts are getting to me! I surely hope they don't have to go on too much longer...

Am I being somewhat uncharacteristically upbeat at the moment? I certainly hope so, because I really am feeling a lot more in control of life - in almost all respects - than I have for quite a long time.

Work-wise, yes, I'm up to my neck in this Java programming right now and often a more than a little unsure where to turn when things go wrong. However I finally feel, after a couple of years of just ticking over in the developmental doldrums, that I'm picking up useful skills once again, and after next week's Java course those practical skills should be cemented with sound theory. Despite initial reservations, Java seems to be a language that's going places both for web-based and stand-alone delivery, and it's likely that an increasing number of science and technology projects will be taking that route. The only other appropriate programming language I really have any confidence in is Delphi, and although I've done a few projects using that over the four or five years I've been here, it's a dead-end solution, and no doubt contributed to the lack of interesting projects coming my way. As regular readers will know, that state of affairs was leading to severe motivational difficulties and fairly active job-hunting, but I would say despite my current stress levels being a bit higher than I'd like, this new direction in what I'm doing - and the intensive guidance I'm receiving in doing so - could just be what secures my future here, both from my own and other people's perspectives.

Health-wise, OK, so I'm a bit sniffly this morning, and these long days at work probably aren't doing much to help, but spring is well and truly here now, and I think I'm eating somewhat better at the moment too. I'm taking a lot of vitamin supplements at the moment, especially vitamin C, but I have a bit of a deficit to make up, and hopefully soon I can be back to some semblance of normality. Of course, before I know it, the grass pollen will be blowing about and my hayfever will return for another bout of misery, but hopefully that's a few weeks off yet and won't interfere too much with any plans I might have for that time of the year.

Relationship-wise, it sometimes seems like that old saying of "water water everywhere but not a drop to drink", with me successfully forming quite close friendships with a number of people, but as yet nothing that goes that crucial step further. In some ways that is frustrating, but it always was my intention to build up friendships, then - and only then! - see what happens... In the meantime it is quite reassuring and personally encouraging that I am capable of maintaining such friendships without continually being obsessed with the outside possibility of anything more "significant" - although I'd be lying if I claimed such thoughts never crossed my mind, but that's probably natural enough. Sure, I'd like more, but I'm very happy with the friendships I have, and have every confidence that in God's good time, things might develop with one of them - and it's not for me to say which one!

And so another day comes to a close, and I got a fair bit done once again, having been in since before eight o'clock as has been the case for the last few working days. Not quite as much completed as I'd hoped, but it wasn't for want of trying - I hit a few difficulties understanding component creation and usage, but I think I've got it all sussed now, so should be able to knock quite a large part of this project on the head tomorrow. There's a more substantial section to be done too, which we might previously have underestimated somewhat, and Phil admits he'll be very surprised if I can get that done tomorrow too - but I'm up for a challenge...

Any plans for a quiet evening in last night were quickly swept aside, with a phone-call from an anxious Sarah whose internet access and Windows ME desktop had both mysteriously gone toes-up. The latter was rectified quickly - some little fingers had evidently clicked on an Active Desktop setting - but the former I think was down to a fault with her ISP, and thankfully by chance she happened to have a Virgin Net installer on her desktop, so we were able to get a "back-up solution" up and running fairly quickly. Sarah had wanted to get on to the internet yesterday to investigate coach times and prices, but they turned out to be nigh on impossible to find out about - Stagecoach, your web sites are probably the worst I have ever had to use - and in the end the journey she was interested in was going to take a crazy amount of time. So with the help of the TrainLine web-site we looked into the rail options instead, which were definitely better! I got away in reasonable time, but it was still another couple of hours before I got to bed, thanks to a longer-than-average MSN chat with a certain person, who has now suggested in principle that we should meet up soon - funny that, after what I was saying only the other day. Nothing's decided yet, but it's a step in the right direction, and if we don't at least try, we'll never know!

"255968722732732356648687"

Not a long-distance phone number for my Martian friends, but a pager message I received this morning... Thanks, Tris, you are on the way to destruction.

Blimey, two pager messages in one day, even if the second was somewhat more meaningful than the first! Sadly it seems Sarah's e-mail configuration still isn't happy after last night - I use the same ISP, and it was fine for me, so there must be something else the matter. In the meantime she can't send out any e-mails, but she doesn't mind waiting until I'm round for tea tomorrow evening - before we go on to neighbourhood group - for me to try and fix it.

I know the original translation was pretty poor, but I'm sure Tristan didn't really mean to tell me that "all your case are belong to up". Oh what fun can be had with a mobile phone; I really must get one of my own sometime.

Well I'm glad I didn't bust a gut to get in to work too early today, because my ten o'clock meeting has been delayed for five hours due to Phil's son being ill. This also gives me a real opportunity to make some headway on that part of the software which we had perhaps previously underestimated, and which I simply had no time - even working late - to get going on yesterday. That late finish yesterday meant I was pretty hungry by the time I called it a day, so I went to get a Chinese take-away for joint consumption with Darren. The three-person set meal really was a bit much for two, though - yummy as it was - but when I eventually got home, Mark hadn't eaten at all and was quite grateful for a hefty plate of leftovers!

Hmm, Evesham Micros are saying my parents' PC should be ready for collection "Friday". I presume that means tomorrow, given that next Friday is a bank holiday of course. Looks like my weekend plans are very much in the air!

Yes, it does mean tomorrow, apparently, though I won't be making any final arrangements for the weekend until I physically have the computer in my possession - hopefully tomorrow evening. All being well, though, the plan is that my mum will drive up here Saturday morning and we'll leave soon after ten to go up to the wedding in Yorkshire in my car; the AA and other journey planning services all say it's just over 200 miles and should take about three and a half hours. We'll drive back in the evening, hopefully arriving in Milton Keynes around midnight, and then get some much-needed sleep. Thankfully I'm no longer required for worship in the West on Sunday morning, so I'll do a rare thing and have a "morning off", getting up late and then probably going into the city centre with Mum for brunch at Woolworths or similar and a look around. Then we'll drive separately to my parents' house - so I'll have a car to come back in! - for me to install the computer in the spare room, show them the basics of its use and of course hook it up to the internet. So long as I can also get myself excused from playing in the band for the evening meeting there should be no big hurry for me to get back to Milton Keynes, but either way this is still preferable to my previous plan of installing the system in an inevitable hurry on Friday evening!

Well there is no Sunday evening meeting at all, apparently, so as long as I get that vital phone-call from Evesham Micros this afternoon, it will be "all systems go" for the unabridged weekend plans as described above. I've still got some getting ready to do for the wedding and in advance of Mum's arrival here, but I've nothing else planned for this evening so I'm sure will do fine.

Last night was interesting, going to a special neighbourhood group night with Sarah, all the church together - or what's left of it, anyway - to hear an Indian guy talking about the success he has had in setting up a bible college in northern India. It was a truly inspirational account and a powerful testimony in its own right, especially given the number of sheer miracles that undeniably occurred in the process. It also made a pleasant change to have a special Thursday meeting that wasn't about something unpleasant!

While tea was cooking earlier, I sorted out Sarah's internet connection once and for all; someone had enabled the confusingly pointless "log on to network" option, which used to just cause a lengthy pause, but in Windows ME drops the connection if inappropriately set. There were a couple of later scares when Sarah's friend Sam tried to use the internet later, but that was simply down to not realising the telephone was off the hook, now they've got an working adapter that lets the computer and telephone be connected simultaneously.

I'm continuing to make good progress with the development work I'm doing at the moment, but I need to spend a couple of hours doing something else today, there's a seminar this afternoon, and the Java course all next week, so I'm a little worried the current momentum might be threatened. Phil seems pleased thus far, though, and my confidence both in Java itself and the questions framework I'm using is increasing exponentially with every day that passes.

Well Evesham didn't phone me, but I phoned them when I got back from work; the computer had arrived and I went to collect it just before they shut up shop for the night. Had a few hassles getting my debit card to clear, and ended up paying by cheque, but all's in order now, and it all works fine, so that will be getting installed Sunday afternoon, if everything goes to plan.

And so a pretty splendid weekend comes to a close, but I'm far too shattered to tell you all about it. All in due course, I'm sure. For now though, supper and bed are the only two pressing concerns on my mind.

I could hardly claim to be wide awake, but I am displaying some vague semblance of consciousness so I guess I could spare a few minutes to catch up on what's been going on. I was supposed to have been going out for a meal or something this evening, but plans seemed to have fallen flat on their face thanks to everyone involved being too busy, so I'm kind of hoping I might get a quiet evening in now - and I surely could do with one, not that I'd turn down any decent opportunity that might yet arise, I should emphasise!

Basically, everything followed the plan as described a few days ago, except in the small matter of the timing. Mum and I arrived in West Burton in good time, and quite a crowd of Berghaus-clad guests had gathered by the appointed time for the start of the alleged walk across the moor. The weather was inclement, however, and there was no sign of the VIPs, so about half an hour later someone made the executive decision that the Fox and Hounds would be a much better place to spend the afternoon. Gil arrived soon after, however - in full Scottish ceremonial garb - and along with Julie was still keen to walk, which most of us duly did, though needless to say it was a road walk thanks to the current crisis, and we still had to pass through a disinfectant point.

It was a very late tea-time by the time we returned to the village hall, but I don't think anyone would have wanted to miss Julie's mum's wonderful home-made cakes, so a couple of hours' slippage of the schedule was a price worth paying. There was a short break before the evening meal, during which people took the opportunity to change into more festive rags and have a bit of a look round the village - even if some got no further than the pub, once again. The evening meal was simple but excellent, and the company at the table I randomly ended up on was good, including Gil himself at one point, "doing the rounds" somewhat.

However by the time there had been a mercifully small number of speeches, it was way past the time Mum and I had been hoping to have been heading home, but we really couldn't leave just as the party proper was about to start, especially with it being a ceilidh with a live band... So we stayed for a few dances, and then a few more, and eventually left at about eleven - two hours later than we'd planned. Never mind though, it was a great evening, it didn't bother me particularly, and Mum was only concerned for my wellbeing.

We arrived back in Milton Keynes at about three in the morning, and by all rights should have had a decent lie-in later, but for some reason that just didn't happen. We were fine, though, and after a bit of breakfast took a wander up into the city centre via the snowdome and ending up at the Cinnabon stand in Midsummer Place. Came back via Waitrose to get a few bits and bobs, and headed off by car to my parents' house separately.

Any hopes of swiftly getting the computer set up were dashed, though, with a lot of tidying needing to be done, the wiring of the phone extension to complete, and the small matter of Wycombe Wanderers versus Liverpool on the television. We did get it done eventually, however, but an introduction to the computer, the internet and e-mail in twenty minutes flat really wasn't going to do any of it justice, so a proper "briefing" on its use will have to wait for another time.

Despite all that, it was still ten o'clock by the time I left, and I near collapsed into bed when I got back in at eleven. I was still dead on my feet for this Java course starting today, but I've managed to survive it so far, and with an early night tonight I might just about be back to normal... The course is good so far; it's not yet really told me anything I didn't already know, but it has formalised a lot of things I "sort of knew" and has explained not just what to type and when, but why it's that way. The tutor is cringeworthy in his "humorous" tangents, but seems a decent enough guy and he certainly knows his stuff.

Anyway, I'm slowly keeling over here, and am also suffering from an acute lack of food, so I'm going to draw this long entry to a close now and bid you all goodnight.

Hmm, not quite the evening out coming up I'd planned, but I'm sure it'll be OK - and better than doing nothing by far, even if I am utterly exhausted!

And now even that secondary plan has fallen through. Is this God's way of telling me to get an early night for once?

Well the Java course is now over, and the long Easter weekend is here - and words really cannot express how glad I am for these extra couple of days off work!

That frustrating Wednesday night did indeed probably turn out for the best, and my patience was rewarded in any case. I ended up having a good long MSN chat with my Special Someone, before getting some vague semblance of an early night. In the morning I found I had a flat tyre, quickly swapped with the spare at the cost of being a couple of minutes late for the final day of the course, but I was very glad I'd noticed it in daylight, which might not have been the case had I gone out Wednesday night. I must get the flat tyre sorted out, though - I wonder if any of the tyre places are open today, it being Good Friday.

Once my course had finished, yesterday evening was hectic, with Sarah more than making up for Wednesday night's last-minute change of plans by agreeing to come out with Laura and Rachael for an early tea at McDonalds. Not Laura's first choice of eatery, but grumbles were quickly suppressed with the promise of a walk round Furzton Lake afterwards, and it all worked out fine in the end.

I then went on alone to neighbourhood group at Martin and Maureen's, billed as a social, which was very much an egg themed evening - though no-one seemed too bothered that Easter eggs are of course a pagan throw-back... There were various games throughout the evening, some more active than others, and somehow my team managed a quite convincing victory! I left the others watching "Chicken Run", with Chris and Claire giving me a lift home; I'd already seen the film a couple of times, and getting some sleep was a much higher priority.

Of course, it didn't quite happen that way, with further MSN chatting finally winding up at about midnight. Today's going to be a fairly quiet day, hopefully, getting a few typically boring shopping bits and pieces done - assuming everywhere's open with at least Sunday hours - including getting that tyre sorted out of course! The rest of the weekend should be decidedly more eventful, but more on that as and when it happens, given recent disappointments...

Phew, what a day... Any fears that the bank holiday would mean I'd have trouble doing what I needed in town proved to be entirely unfounded.

Darren phoned just as I was about to go into town, and he too needed some tyres changed on his car and knew a good workshop in Wolverton, so we drove up there in convoy. It took us a little while to get seen to, so we took a walk along the canal in the meantime. A shade under fifty pounds for two Goodyears seemed really quite reasonable; the flat tyre had a dirty great nail sticking out of it, and the spare I was using was somewhat unevenly worn. They'd run out of the economy tyres of my car's size minutes earlier, but ten pounds extra for a good brand seemed fair, and with tyre-wear as it is in Milton Keynes, they were probably a good choice for the front anyway.

When both our cars had been done, we drove back to Darren's via the Stacey Bushes KFC - hadn't been there for over a year, some readers may be surprised to hear! - and then on into the city centre. Apart from my food shopping, I was also looking out for a small Easter present for Sarah and family, ending up getting something yummy-looking at Thorntons. I also finally gave in to Darren's light-hearted nagging, so on Wednesday, credit checks etc permitting, I should be taking delivery of a lovely new "free" Nokia 6210 connected to Orange. Whether this decision finally to "bite" was influenced by hearing that my mum has just bought a mobile - albeit a pay-as-you-go one - I will leave to the more speculative amongst you...

Anyway, now I'm back at home, quite exhausted, and it's about time for tea I guess.

After an exhausting week of early starts like that last one's been, why is it I can't get myself to manage a half-decent lie-in now I have the opportunity?!

And lo, I would appear to be "single" again, without ever having been particularly "attached" in the meantime. I guess I asked for a clear sign and I got one, and I've had a great day today, so I'm not complaining, even if it's not exactly following my own script.

Blimey that was a busy weekend. I have been pretty much ordered to rest today. So that's precisely what I'm doing. More or less.

What's more, amazingly I managed to get a half-decent lie-in this morning - just a pity it's the last I'll get for a few more days, with work being my unaccustomed activity once again as from tomorrow. Off out for lunch with Darren in a short while, though, which gave me the incentive to get up, breakfasted, bathed and so on. It's been a good fun - if decidedly exhausting and occasionally more than a little challenging - weekend so far, though, with a long overdue visit to the fascinating Milton Keynes museum Saturday afternoon and various other walks and so on during those brief sunnier spells.

And now I'm back at work, struggling to stay awake, and brought back firmly to earth after last week's course and the weekend's fun. Yesterday was a good lazy day, pigging out at Pizza Hut with Darren for a late lunch, then visiting Great Mills to buy a few bits and pieces to help Darren's garden transformation. We then returned to Darren's house via Blockbuster to watch "Gone in sixty seconds" and then last night's episode of "Voyager". The former was pretty much devoid of any plot, but good vegetative fun, and perfect after a long weekend like this one had been, and when the latter had finished I hit the road home for some well-earned sleep!

Had a quiet evening in yesterday, doing not a colossal amount - only making a phone-call to someone I'd not spoken to for ages and digging out some scanned images for Giles being of any note at all really! All being well, tonight I am round at Seamus and Gill's for a meal, the first in a long time - well over a year, I think, given that the last time I was with Zoe and it's been almost exactly a year since that came to an end. I will hopefully also be picking up my mobile from Amtrak's depot at Wymbush, assuming they have tried and failed to deliver it this morning as expected...

Or not, as the case may be. The stupid sales idiot forgot to take my date of birth and couldn't be bothered to try and contact me until today. If I'd had any presence of mind I'd have cancelled the order there and then, but instead the delivery date now might be Friday. Possibly. Good thing I didn't take today off work to await the courier, or I'd really be hopping mad right now.

Last night was good, round at Seamus and Gill's as planned, with yummy Mexican bits and bobs for tea. For once, no computer tinkering whatsoever, just a good chance to catch up on everything else that's happening - and more food for thought, it has to be said. Their heating had unfortunately packed up and I was very tired anyway, so I didn't stay too late, and instead headed home for a relatively early night. Tonight's planned meal destination is Sarah's for a pre-neighbourhood-group bite to eat, before going on to Chris and Claire's for the gathering itself. No idea what's in store for us all there, but I doubt it will be too heavy going!

I'm sure it is logical that the new version of our department's sampler CD-ROM, for imminent - and indeed supposedly somewhat urgent! - distribution, should be labelled "2001" rather than "2000 Revision 1", and it really won't take long to fix, but it might have been nice to ask me a couple of months ago when I was doing all the other changes, rather than long after I'd assumed it had already gone to production...

Neighbourhood group was good enough, hosted by Claire, run by Roger and Pam, and covering quite a wide range of topics in the space of a couple of hours. Tea beforehand was good too, though obviously a little hurried. Almost the weekend now, though - I wonder what I'll get up to this time..? Oh, and of course today's the day I should now be getting my mobile - if not, I really will be cross, not that I desperately need it, but it's a principle thing!

Obviously going back to work was a daft idea, because for all my best intentions it really didn't last, with me off work again today for the sake of not inflicting upon my colleagues whatever ailment it is I am suffering. As I was sniffling a bit yesterday I thought it was just the start of my hayfever season, but having had a lousy night's sleep and waking up feeling quite groggy it's obviously something else. Yesterday was the first day in a couple of months I can recall having missed taking my vitamin C booster, though I've no idea whether that's really significant.

It's been a productive weekend, though, I am pleased to say. My phone duly arrived on Friday, though as expected I had to pop over to Amtrak's depot in Wymbush to pick it up. Everything seems to be in order with that, so although the dealer turned out to be less than brilliant, it's more hassle than it's worth to do anything much about it, and the chances are I will never hear from them again. Even the WAP features seem quite cool, for things like catching up on news headlines and so on, though my usage was perhaps biased by Orange offering free WAP access at weekends for the next few weeks...

Saturday was mainly spent being extremely practical, primarily helping Sarah paint Claire's bedroom an almost lilac shade of pale blue. We got three of the walls done, with one relatively easy one still to do, though the whole lot really needs another coat anyway. Considering the state of the walls before we started, it's looking pretty good already! When I arrived back home, Mark had not long been in, just back from a fortnight of skiing in Switzerland, so there was a brief chance to catch up a little there, though we were all pretty tired needless to say!

Sunday was a funny old day though, a right hotch-potch of different things. I had already agreed to help out with worship in West Church at Two Mile Ash, but I was quite surprised as I arrived a little late to hear quite a rousing sound emanating already. It turned out that with quite a few people away, it was a joint meeting with Wolverton, and that extended as far as the worship band too. In fact I doubt I would have been missed if I'd not been there, but some possible alternative plans for Sunday morning had never materialised anyway, so it mattered little, and I enjoy visiting West anyway.

I came home via Springfield School, to try and catch the tail end of the meeting there, but just as I arrived, Sarah phoned my mobile for a bit of a chat and to invite me round for tea later. There was still time to kill in the meantime, and Darren had earlier texted me asking about lunch plans, so we arranged to go to Chillies Indian restaurant with Mark and Matt, using my discount card to effectively get free drinks with our buffet! The food there was as good as ever, and for once they actually had the full range of kulfi too!

Tea round at Sarah's was typically pleasant, and other aspects were better than they have sometimes been, though it was still a relief to get the girls off to bed at a reasonable hour and to be able to watch a video in peace. The film was "Mickey Blue Eyes", which neither of us had seen before, but Sarah is a self-confessed Hugh Grant nut, so it was only going to be a matter of time for her at least. Not his best film ever, we agreed, but it was still quite fun, though we agreed it was definitely not one for even the older girls to watch quite yet.

Anyway, I'm feeling quite a bit better now, but am going to go and have a bit more rest, so that hopefully I might feel fit to go out for a little while this evening.

Hmm, should I have gone for that Mongolian barbecue meal this evening? Well I did get some sleep this afternoon, but I'm not sure if that's sufficiently vindicating. The real proof will be whether I'm fit to go to work tomorrow...

Well I made it in to work, and I don't feel too bad, perhaps having more than made up for my vitamin C deficiency over the weekend by having double doses both yesterday and today.

I thought I'd get a good day's work in before meeting with Phil tomorrow morning, but then found in fact our meeting was to be at 9.30 this morning! What with my day off sick yesterday, a whole stack of other "urgent" work over the last week and the Java course the week before Easter, I had made almost precisely no progress whatsoever on the software for him since we last met. He was quite understanding though, and we've agreed to meet on Friday morning now, which should give me ample opportunity to crack on.

I was a bit miffed to get a visit from Adam this morning, though, wondering how the latest changes to the CES sampler CD-ROM were getting on, and getting a bit anxious and pushy about it, when as you know, I thought it was done, dusted and en route to production ages ago and it was in fact Adam's possible pedantry that had delayed it. Hey ho, I guess there will always be something to annoy me no matter how upbeat I'm feeling.

Oh, and I was also quietly e-mailed a couple of updated spreadsheets this morning, relating to yet another package I'd been working on that I had considered completed. And all this in a week I had promised I could dedicate to the work for Phil! I really do despair sometimes, I tell you...

Well, the spreadsheets have been duly updated and the CES sampler CD-ROM re-mastered - not before rather questionably obtaining the font required to adjust one of the graphics, though. Oh, and I've initiated contact with a possible new church - but more on that later, perhaps. Yes, I know I'd said before I wasn't rushing to jump ship after the crisis that started - at least in its most public guise - a few weeks ago, but other issues have since come to light that are causing me and others to ask further questions.

I got a reply back from them last night, though it confirmed only what I already knew - not that that's a problem, because I wanted to approach them independently for various reasons anyway. I've no idea whether these are the right people to go with, but now seems to be the time to be pushing on doors and seeing what happens, and the planned Sunday-afternoon walk could be an ideal opportunity. Otherwise, last night was spent having tea at KFC with Darren and Dave before going to watch "Spy Kids" at Cineworld. We weren't put off by being probably amongst the oldest people in the theatre, and almost certainly the only ones without youngsters of our own in tow, and had a splendid time. Tonight there's a worship team social event at Giles and Jeanne's house, which I will be going to, though obviously there's quite a question mark hanging over my future involvement given my current indecision.

The worship team evening was interesting and quite fun, though I already felt like I was just an observer at times, trying to take in what was being proposed and so on but managing minimal emotional involvement. Some of what was said was encouraging, other parts not so, yet other parts sounded good on the face of it but didn't bear deeper scrutiny. The times they are definitely a-changing, but quite what is on the other side - and where that other side is, exactly - will remain to be seen.

Oh well, if Phil had hoped I'd more or less have this Java stuff knocked on the head when we meet tomorrow morning, he'll be sadly disappointed. It's not for want of trying, though, and I've done a lot today - even if for little visible progress. I was hoping to have dedicated three clear days to it this week, but other urgent stuff has conspired to make that more like a day and a half, and it shows. Sadly the question I've been working on today is a particularly extensive one that introduced some previously unknown complications - such as displaying equations and grids of data - so it superficially looks like I've not done a lot, but the truth is quite otherwise and I've barely paused for breath today. I wish I could pin it down and say for sure how much more I have to do and how long I expect it to take, but my experience so far means I now expect the unexpected and just do what I can... But now I'm off home, possibly via Ask for a pizza, then on to neighbourhood group to see what new trouble is in store for us all.

That being precisely what I did, last night - and very yummy it was too, with double pepperoni and green chillies. Neighbourhood group was OK, but nothing particularly earth-shattering was announced, but maybe that's being saved for next week when there is another "family night" when the eldership's vision of the future is apparently to be presented. This morning's meeting with Phil went OK, and he didn't seem too disappointed that I'd only apparently tackled one question; even he admitted it was a monster of a question, though I think he's hoping for more tangible progress by our next meeting Monday morning, so I have a busy afternoon coming up no doubt. But then it will be the weekend, and it should be quite a productive, interesting and eye-opening one, after which I might have a better idea of where I stand and where I'm going. Tomorrow I should be helping finish off the painting of Claire's room, and I think there's a few other bits and pieces needing doing though I can't remember quite what! Sunday I am playing in the Centre worship band in the morning, but after that, who knows..?

Oh well, painting's off, for various complicated reasons I oughtn't go into, but dinner's on instead and some maths homework help. Had a good evening out tonight, so can't say I'll be too sorry not to be up bright and early tomorrow!

Well that was an interesting weekend, to say the least - and although it's a popular truism, yesterday in particular felt rather like the first day of the rest of my life. Friday night I was out at Wetherspoons with Darren, and bumped into my old friend Richard there, sampling the delights of their beer festival range. I don't think I'd seen him to talk to properly for a couple of years, so that was a good chance to catch up with life's happenings, especially since Richard had left MKCF a good while ago and could analyse the current troubles from an observer's point of view. Saturday evening's maths help was straightforward enough, though it took me back about fifteen years to when I was doing factorisation and so on at school. The slight change of plans meant I was able to go out for a Mexican lunch with Darren, which made a pleasant variation on the usual Saturday theme.

All of which brings us to Sunday... Well I was playing at Centre church in the morning, but that was about as far as it went with regard to anything vaguely conventional. In the afternoon I drove down to the pub car-park at Caldecotte Lake to meet up with the church group I was going for a walk with. The weather forecast was for heavy rain, but it was gloriously warm and sunny all afternoon, and I had a great time talking to both old friends and new. I just felt so "at home" in a way I'd not for a long time, with even new friends seeming like I'd known them for a lifetime. Sarah - along with Laura and Rachael - joined the group too, and came away with similar feelings, and I think we will be pursuing this a little further. We're still sitting on the fence somewhat, but it seems healthy and right to make full use of being on such a convenient vantage point.

Sarah had to get back home quickly afterwards because she was expecting a visitor, but I stayed a little longer to talk with the leaders, following on a little later for some tea and games. Any hopes of an early night were dashed though with an unexpected phone-call from my friend Susie - really phoning for Mark, who was out, but ending up talking to me for about half an hour instead!

Now back at work, of course, and already had a good progress meeting with Phil this morning, at which we set some attainable targets for our next meeting on Wednesday. So that means another busy week coming up, but no worries...

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