goznet ...

David's diary: June 2002

If I needed this four-day weekend so much, what on earth am I doing up before nine o'clock on the Saturday morning of it? I hate my body-clock sometimes!

Just about lunchtime now. I think I shall get dressed and toddle off up town, via an appropriate burger retailer of my choice, then go and do my shopping, remembering it's a long weekend, including a barbecue at Steve and Anne's on Tuesday, all being well.

Just been out for a two-hour walk - and now dripping with sweat! I think I'd better have another bath before it starts becoming obvious to others!

Blimey, things just get confusinger and confusinger. But one of the reliable things in life is the quality of a Sharwoods chicken tikka masala, with vegetable balti, pilau rice and naan bread - all for a miserly three quid, less a penny. Guess what I had for tea tonight? Go on, be brave!

Only up this early on a non-church Sunday 'cos I was hoping to get a couple of emails. But no sign of anything, and still in need of sleep, so back to bed I go, I guess! Perhaps after "just one more game" of Spider Solitaire, that is.

Ow ow ow ow ow! But a good healthy "ow ow ow ow ow" to a large extent. Just been out for my first run in ages, though I can't pretend it went entirely to plan. At my "peak" a few years ago I was managing Willen Lake - or at least the southern half of it - in under twenty minutes, but this time I couldn't even get round non-stop. Mind you, having struggled round in about half an hour, I had an ice-cream and felt raring to go again, and managed to get well over twice as far before stopping on my second attempt. So, two rather shaky, but improving, laps - I guess that's better than one perfect one as far as getting fit is concerned. I feel much better for it, anyway, even though I expect my legs will be aching like hell later. But I feel even better for a cool bottle of Bud, and there's another six where it came from. Hmm, along with the ice-cream, I'm not sure if that was quite the idea!

So, it's Jubilee Day, I understand. I'd imagined it was going to be tomorrow, but apparently that's the Spring bank holiday, delayed by a week and a day. I remember 1977, and the Queen's silver jubilee. I remember Honor Road and Prestwood common all being decked out with bunting and trestle tables, a wonderful feast, and just about every child in the village there and wearing bonnets - and of course taking home their commemorative mugs. This time? Nothing to speak of, at least here in Milton Keynes.

A few weeks ago the powers that be were rather disappointed that not one street-party licence had been applied for. Then when one street did apply, they were told they were too late, though I believe there was eventually a u-turn when they convinced the council that it was not going to inconvenience anyone in a cul-de-sac where everyone would either attend or be on holiday anyway... But there's nothing here, anyway; it's just a typically grey and damp bank holiday and I'm not planning on doing a great deal to be honest. Not even to go for a run, probably, though I may well yet have a change of heart - and yes, my legs are indeed aching as predicted!

Last night was most pleasant, though, resting those weary legs in a very long, hot - at least to start with - bath, whiling away the hour or more chatting with my other friend Sarah on my mobile. Why is it that life doesn't work out like films and television dramas, where there's only ever one person per name?

Then, after a rather delicious paella ready-meal, I popped round to see David - a.k.a. SBJ - now he's at least half settled in to his new abode here in Milton Keynes before starting work on Wednesday. It's quite a small studio flat, but he's already done a fairly good job of transforming it into a home, and he duly spent a couple of hours musically educating me with the help of his CD and record collection.

Meanwhile, around about now, there should be some slave-releasing going on.

Any sign?

There's going to be some pizza-eating going on shortly, though - before I watch "The Empire Strikes Back" and perhaps "Return of the Jedi" if I stay awake long enough - and that comes a close second really. A nice glass or two of wine might just help tip the balance...

"Return of the Jedi" had to wait until this morning. It was the only one I don't recall having watched - at least in its entirety - before. I don't know what all the fuss was about Jar Jar Binks in "The Phantom Menace"; he had nothing on those Ewoks. Though take the irritating furballs away and there's actually quite a good film left over - it was just a pity that George Lucas's "special editions" couldn't run to quite that level of surgery...

Just had a fab barbecue chez Anne and Steve, but way too shattered now to contemplate writing any more - though seen one barbecue, seen 'em all to some extent, surely? 'Twas jolly good though, as my sole real concession to the Jubilee. Oh, and met an old flame, so much catching up to be done there!

Back to work tomorrow, though. The long weekend seemed to start slowly, but like so many weekends, it accelerated as time went on. Now it's almost like it didn't happen, though all in all it's been quite relaxing and fun.

Still, at least it's a short week at work, and all being well I should get away for the weekend, to see my parents and sister - and the youngest three of her offspring - under somewhat better circumstances than the last time, though not as good as the time before but that's history thanks to intervening events. Tonight I'm round at Sarah's, to set up her scanner - which hadn't been done since we reinstalled Windows on her PC the other week - and help her produce the appendices for her latest assignment. Hopefully we'll also be able to sort out backing up her "My Documents" folder, and if the weather clears up a little - yes, guess what... There's a lawn needing mowing again!

Looking ahead to next week, I have the great excitement of taking my car in for a service and MOT test on Tuesday, which will hopefully be somewhat cheaper and less problematic than last year's ended up! The service apparently involves checking about fifty items, but only a very few bits should need changing, and I don't think I've blown a gasket again... And for the first time in ages, the windscreen washer is working well, so it should fly through its MOT. They've promised to run me to work when I drop the car off, and Tim's kindly taking me back whenever it's done, as seems to have become our reciprocal agreement!

Thank you to Kallisti for grammatically correcting my nameline. This entry shall make no sense once it's on the web, so I'll probably delete it then.

[Or maybe not, just to be confusing!]

The jubilee weekend ended up pretty much bone-dry, contrary to expectations, but all that forecast rain had to happen sometime, and there was consequently quite a deluge yesterday afternoon and evening. So no lawn-mowing got done after all, and will be needed all the more next time there's an opportunity! Even so, there still wasn't time to do everything intended - most notably the planned back-up - mainly because with two over-energetic children on our hands and headaches developing we decided a walk out in the fresh air would do the world of good, and we chanced upon the only dry hour in the evening... At least we succeeded in getting the scanner set up, and Sarah was able to make copious notes as I ran through the procedure of scanning an image and pasting it into Word, so it didn't take us too long to pull the appendices together. Still quite late by the time I got away, due to various distractions, but at least I slept better than the last couple of nights, so wasn't too unwilling a riser this morning and actually managed some semblance of breakfast!

But to my pit I now return. It's cosy in my pit; I've made it quite a home from home. I can hear the world go by above, but in my pit, time doesn't matter. An hour is a day is a week is a month. Occasionally someone casts a rope down. Sometimes I will ignore it or will it to go away. Other times I will climb up. It's quite nice outside the pit, and I enjoy the odd excursion despite the effort in climbing the rope. But as night falls, I return to the safety of my pit. It's where I feel secure. Away from the world.

One such excursion planned for the weekend has almost certainly now bitten the dust. I'm finding it hard to plan anything much even slightly ahead, and then when I do, it gets scuppered. I think I shall give up bothering even trying.

Time to cry myself to sleep now, anyway. Night night distant, detached world.

So much to say, but so little way of putting into words. But so much of what I want to say, I am not even sure about myself. I know only God can see the full picture, but just a little hint of where to go next would be helpful. I knock on doors, and they neither open nor does anyone tell me to go away. Instead, no-one answers at all, and I am left wondering, hoping, in endless desperation.

Still in two minds. But I must not let unjustified guilt get the better of me.

Moving Shadow 01.1 is satisfactorily deferring my decision for the moment.

Never used to like drum and bass.

Eventual decision - I'm not going home this weekend, well probably not anyway. Had a good chat with my mum this evening, and she's not in the least offended or anything. I knew that would be the case; it's just my current mental state.

Ah, incoming text message I must see to. Girlies take priority over Monochrome as I am sure you will understand! Probably won't be back on this evening, so night night, and I'll catch up with y'all during the weekend no doubt...

I'd never noticed before what a terribly sad - in the traditional sense of the word - album Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side Of The Moon" is. So sad, and so true.

This weekend's being OK so far, mainly because I've been forced out to do things. Well, not exactly forced, but put in a position where I couldn't too easily say no! I'd received an email early this morning asking if a friend could borrow some wine-glasses for a hot date this evening, and ended up having brunch with them in town, lending them a load of CDs and spending the afternoon helping generally prepare for the occasion.

Yes, it hurts a bit to see others making progress like that as I spin round in circles not entirely of my own making, but I'm still happy to be any help I can... I think it's in my nature to an extent, though sometimes I wonder if a little more selfishness wouldn't do any harm from time to time, and deep down I frequently still question my own motives so it would be less hypocritical.

Someone's answered one of the doors I've knocked on. Just got to see if they'll let me in, or only talk to me with the safety of the chain...

Too early on a Sunday morning. Can't sleep, won't sleep. And I can't even use church as an excuse to get up; that's not until this evening.

A few more games of Spider Solitaire and a long hot bath later, and it's almost lunchtime, though. Just need to get culinarily inspired, now.

Must ... write ... reply ...

And get dressed sometime too.

A prayerful postscriptum:

Lord, I thank you not for the pain itself, but for the wisdom to see through it to its necessity to prosper me. I feel not peace through my anguish, but through the secure knowledge that you do, always have, and always will, care.

And with that, the book closes.

It's Monday morning, and a bright new day. The sun's out, the birds are singing, the flowers aren't even making my eyes and nose itch too much. OK, so I'm cooped up at work, but it's a bright new day and the only way is up. It's also a Monday morning after a really quite good weekend, one where I actually feel I was able to both rest and recuperate as I desperately needed, and get out, do things, see people, and generally make the most of the time. Church last night was good too, even if low on numbers with regards to both leadership and congregation. No Matt and Jill meant we had a guest speaker, but he was excellent, talking about being thankful in prayer, even when everything seems to be hopeless - and with real evidence from his own church to back that up, citing the healing of a tiny baby about whom doctors only decline from using the word "miracle" because it would be unprofessional. I can certainly relate to the "being thankful to God" bit; hard as it may be, it's helped me through the last few weeks, and really do now feel that the future is bright and I can look forward to the unknowns ahead with eager anticipation and no more fear.

What a nice academic, and others who've met him agree. I was a little daunted at having to pay a professor a visit, but he was completely down to earth and chatty, was not wearing socks and sandals, and agreed with almost everything I suggested. "I don't think you'll gain anything much from having an animation there," I suggested. "OK, I'll amend the Word document right away!" "Why have you done it like that in the spreadsheet mock-up?" I wondered. "Oh, that's the only way Excel would let me; it's not a proper programming language." I just wish he could convince some of his faculty colleagues of that... Top bloke. Will be a pleasure liaising with him on this project I am quite sure.

To wrap up a better day at work than many lately, it's been a pretty good evening too. Us lads had invited Andy out for a drink later, but the plans quickly changed to a whole mob of us - including Rosie and littl'uns Hattie and Emily - going for a most pleasant stroll around Willen Lake, via the park, and winding up at the pub for a pint and a bag of crisps. Quite glad the plans changed really, though, 'cos I'm pretty tired now, and will probably head for bed soon! Especially since I've got to be up early tomorrow to take my car in for its service and MOT, having earlier this evening done a little pre-service maintenance. Most notably, I sorted out the long running problems with the boot lock, which turned out - after I'd removed half the interior trim to get to it - actually to be a worn out key... Anyway, that's enough for now, I'm falling asleep as I type this, and really could do with a bath before calling it a night, so signing off for now!

For all the rightful kerfuffle over PwC Consulting's new name, I have to say that if all Mondays were like today, I could really quite live with the concept. Just got to keep the ball rolling... So far, so good, anyway!

The only downer is that my hayfever's the worst today that it's been all year. But I have a nice new bottle of Beconase waiting to be started, and it really has been plain sailing this far. I've had my eight doses today already so really oughtn't have any more, but I sense a sneezy night coming up... But if this is the worst it gets, then I'm really not complaining too much!

What was it I was saying about bed, almost an hour ago? Oops...

'Night, really this time!

The car's successfully dropped off at Autorama, and there were no problems getting the lift into work afterwards - indeed there was another chap from a different part of my department so it was really quite straightforward. I enquired about getting my worn out key replaced - not that it was strictly necessary, since I still have two working keys, including the master - but that would cost about fifty pounds to get done properly, so I declined for the moment! That answered something I'd been wondering about for ages, because the main reason for the cost is because it's a transponder immobiliser key, so got electronics of some kind in it. I was sure the salesman originally told me the car had an immobiliser, but I was never quite sure - without any special procedure being necessary to start the car - but that resolves that! I can get a new key cut for a fraction of the price if I only want one to give access to the vehicle, and not start it, but it barely seems worth worrying about anyway.

Had a phone call from Autorama a little while ago. The car's sailed through its MOT test without any problems, though there are a few borderline things I've given permission for them to fix anyway. Such as front brakes that have almost worn out, and a damaged rear wiper blade. No problem, though I'm sure they'll cost twice as much there than elsewhere - but sometimes it's easier simply to pay for these things to be done there and then.

Apart from that, this morning's been taken up with a mercifully pretty short production meeting for a course I'm putting together a resources CD-ROM for, and there's another associated meeting this afternoon which I hope can be equally snappy! Then just wait for Autorama to phone to say my car's ready to be collected - well, I can live in hope of that Holy Grail, the garage that is capable of lifting up the phone, can't I? They're the best garage I've ever dealt with, but there are some things that even they can't manage...

Hmm, taken phone-call after phone-call over lunchtime. My car's ready to be collected already - which means my earlier cynicism was completely unjustified - and Farnborough College do want me to come for an interview on Thursday after all. Well, actually, the latter was an answerphone message, so I need to get back to them sometime this afternoon to let them know whether I'll be there. Which, needless to say, will require me to make a decision in that regard. It's short notice, no, ridiculously short notice, though Thursday always was the day they said they were going to run interviews so I did have it pencilled in to my diary anyway. So it's really down to how I feel about it all, and whether I can now get the day off work easily. The time off work should be no problem, but I'm not entirely sure about the rest. I guess I have nothing to lose from at least trying, though; I can always decline any job offer...

Well, I'm going. They seem to want a rather unreasonable amount of supporting documentation and will require me to do a ten-minute presentation, but accept that two days' notice isn't an awful lot! I just hope it's worth the effort.

I've decided to take tomorrow off too, so at least I'll have a clear day to plan the presentation I have to do, on the topic of "engaging young people in music technology in ways to ensure that they successfully complete the course", as well as hopefully dig out some of the certificates and things they want.

Had a nice evening out, at Astronomy Club, reaping the benefits of taking tomorrow off work - otherwise I'd have stayed home, panicking I'm sure! The observatory refit is pretty much complete, with the grand opening by the VC on Friday, and we were treated to a sneak preview. I wonder if I'll be around to use it ever, though? Also, with tomorrow's inevitable presentation-writing in mind, Mark's given me a few pointers which will be most useful. In fact I might even struggle to contain it all within the allowed ten minutes now... What a star! I'm almost feeling positive about this now!

As with some others, time for bed now, if I'm to make the most of tomorrow!

Night night all you lovely people. And everyone else.

Hmm, not quite making the most of the time yet, though I probably did need that lie-in and leisurely start. Think I'll get dressed, head into town, get my hair cut, grab a burger or similar somewhere, then spend the afternoon devising this presentation. All being well, should have got that nicely knocked on the head by this evening, so I'll be able to go to the Wednesday Open House group's social at the Proud Perch. Now, let's see how much of that actually happens...

Well I'm currently half way through the "spending the afternoon devising this presentation" stage, having successfully completed the rest, so that's pretty good going, really. I have my bullet points written, so I just need to give a little thought to what I'm actually going to say "around" them. I'm feeling a bit more positive about this all than I was yesterday. I still rather doubt I'll get the job, but at least I'm now entering it with the attitude that I can - they wouldn't have invited me otherwise! - so am giving it my best shot.

Getting there, slowly. Going to go out tonight regardless, though. I'll need it! I'm sure the interview panel will understand if it's a little disjoint...

Well, today's the day. I'll just do the best I can - what else can I do?!

Better get up, bathed, dressed and breakfasted, then devise my journey...

Well I'm back in Milton Keynes town, and it's not the 13th any more, so it really is high time I was turfing the stuff off my bed and occupying it myself!

More tomorrow - oops, later today, I mean - no doubt.

OK, it's now a sane time on Friday and I have a few spare minutes before the grand opening of the refurbished observatory, followed by a seminar presented by Tim and Matthew, so what better opportunity to report on the past day?

Well, to get the dull and boring stuff over with, I'm 99% sure I've not got the job, though to be honest I'm not sure I'd want it anyway - and for a number of reasons, not just financial! They were pretty straight with me that the reason for bringing me in at short notice was because I was on a "reserve" list and someone else dropped out, and I struggled with almost all the questions they asked. Nevertheless it was good experience, and perhaps just as well that my first interview in almost six years wasn't for a job I desperately wanted. But that was only the first part of my day down there!

During my tour of the college, as expected, I bumped into Gavin, and he happily invited me back for tea, leading the way out of the nightmare urban sprawl that is Farnborough and surrounding towns - and that I had struggled to find my way around earlier in the day, glad I'd allowed a little time to get lost! Lucy hadn't changed much, but Gemma was of course about twice as big as last time I saw her, and quite a chatty bundle of fun apart from being somewhat tired and consequently a little irritable from time to time. I'd not met Rowena at all before yesterday, and she celebrated her first birthday the other day...

Gavin had a meeting to go to at nine, and that seemed like a good time to be on my way, which obviously meant that wasn't what happened. Instead, I thought I'd text my friend Sarah, living just round the corner from Gavin, in the unlikely event that she was back from being away for a couple of days - and to my surprise, she was, and duly invited me round for a cuppa and a chat. So that delayed my departure by about an hour, not that it worried me in the least! I was still home well before midnight, by virtue of being able to use the M3, M25 and M1 rather than the relative back-roads I'd driven down via.

Anyway, better head off to the observatory now - yikes, I sound like the school geeks from that episode of the Simpsons where Bart discovers a comet...

No comets spotted though - just a vice-chancellor, a few dozen onlookers and a reasonable amount of precipitation. Though I couldn't even hang around for the wine and nibbles on offer since I had another meeting to go to. Anyway, this highly disjoint, but tiring, week is almost done with - hooray for weekends!

Phew - what a weary-making, but fun, evening. Well, kind of, anyway! And more of approximately the same scheduled for tomorrow, if all happens as planned.

Why, oh why, oh why, oh why (etc) am I up before nine on a Saturday - again?

Avoiding football - I'm sure I'll find out anyway. Going for pizza instead.

Ended up as pizza with Darren and David - of the Severn Bridge Junction variety rather than Mr Sax - followed by further musical reminiscence and re-education back at David's. I'll probably wreak my revenge in that regard tomorrow afternoon, all remaining well on the lack-of-prior-engagements front. But for now it's about time to get ready for my "quiet evening out", my eventual choice of the triple-booking I had for tonight. Almost a quadruple booking, but hey.

And most reasonably pleasant it was too, and no doubt a lot less hassle than any of the alternatives - especially the hypothetical fourth option. Needless to say, I was round at Sarah's, finally strimming the lawn, being given tea, setting up their new printer, fixing a few problems with the computer, and going on a bit of a wild goose chase regarding what Laura and her friend Natasha thought was a lost cat. The only downside was that we couldn't complete the back-up of Sarah's documents that we'd hoped to, since the Adaptec software refused to recognise the ZipCD drive we were using, but that can wait until yet another day as it's done for a fair few weeks already. Oh, and for once, the girls were angels - at least in a relative way! Barely even any threats required... Anyway, it's late, and I need to be up in fairly good time tomorrow for cafe church, so off to bed I toddle. Night night!

Sunday's gone, and with it, the weekend. I'd rather not have to go to work tomorrow, but at least I've had a good time, with cafe church at the snow-dome this morning and being round at David's this afternoon and evening as planned, sharing some of my musical favourites and more... But I'm pretty tired and do not plan on a late night by any means - which means that's probably exactly what will happen - so am going to go and investigate supper imminently.

Mmmm, microwaved bread with Marmite. Not tried it? Don't knock it.

Bed seems further off than ever, now.

No, these edit-log occurrences are not associated in any way; any more than the users involved are, come to that. I bite my tongue regarding anything more.

102/06/16 22:25    chick <MLYD> Diary for chick
102/06/16 22:26    gozza <MLYD> Diary for gozza

Just to be entirely clear, like. OK?

To anyone reading this on my website, who's not familiar with the Monochrome system via which these diary entries are all initially made, yes, those do look like distinctly Y2K-noncompliant dates in the above. As for why they've not been fixed, over two and a half years after the big odometer roll-over, well...

You tell me!

Monday morning's pretty much done with; I guess that takes me about a tenth of the way through the working week. And a tenth further than I was about three hours ago. I'd rather not be here, but I'd rather be here than anywhere worse!

Eek, is that the time? Time for a bath and an early night, methinks!

Argh, I just had to consult my office-mates as to what today's date is. They accordingly consulted their computers and duly announced it as the 18th. I have a perfectly good computer of my own in front of me, self-evidently. My watch stopped last night - almost certainly just a dead battery - and it's completely thrown me. I feel naked and helpless without it. How will I cope for the best part of a week until I can do anything much about it?

Meanwhile, my bedroom noticeboard at home has been a little bare lately. Until recently it was adorned with a number of photographs, drawings and so on, but most had to come down not so long ago. A few remained, but the rest have gone into cold storage. But it's now gained another picture, a big heart with the words "love you" written across it. All of about a minute's work on the part of its artist, and not exactly originally intended for me, but given with an unconditional, no-strings-attached meaning I really cannot remember before.

And no, whatever you're thinking, it's probably not true. I am still free and single. Not so sure about the "young" bit any more, but that comes and goes. But I now know there are people in the world who can take me as I am, relate to me without any hidden agenda, and give me hope of a brighter future to come!

The last few days, I seem mostly to have been an agony uncle. I wonder why?

I can tell this is going to be just one of those days. I get a stroppy letter from Orange complaining about me not having paid my bill, when it was their own Customer Service department who advised me to hold back since they cocked up with calculating it. I buy a can of Diet Coke at the shop here and it's flat. The only emails I get are seven copies of the same junk-mail from a spammer I thought I'd got shut down a couple of weeks ago after his last bombardment. My hayfever's so bad someone called "bless you" from the path outside this first floor office. Oh, and it's still far too hot. On the brighter side of things, I'm enjoying this new project I'm just starting on, to create a microprocessor simulator in Java. That's enough to half-fill my glass, happily to say.

Last night was a bit grim, really, to be honest. Sarah had invited me round for some tea and to proof-read her latest assignment. I thought she sounded a bit confused when I'd spoken to her on Monday, and I couldn't quite work out when she was actually going to write the stuff I was supposed to be checking, and it turned out she was actually expecting me today.

Consequently, Sarah arrived home well over an hour later than anticipated - thankfully Laura was able to let me in - and was temporarily surprised to find me. But I was there anyway and Sarah insisted I shouldn't feel in the least bit awkward about it, so she pressed on with her work, and after we'd fed the girls and popped our own rather impromptu casserole into the oven, I checked the first half of it.

Then I'm really not quite sure what happened, but the upshot was that Laura really wasn't too well - and in a mood where she was quite unsure how much attention she wanted, one I can well relate to - we didn't eat until gone ten o'clock, and the second half of Sarah's assignment only got the most cursory run-through when in a shattered daze I realised it had fallen by the wayside.

So all a bit confused, frustrating and generally unsatisfactory as such things go, and at least two of those involved didn't end the day with much of a smile on their faces. But these things happen, I guess.

"One of those days" continued into this evening, rather. Suffice to say, the keypad lock on a Nokia 6210 is about as good as a chocolate teapot. My apologies go out to Tristan here on Monochrome, plus Mum and Dad, Seamus and Gill, Sarah, Darren and Ross, all of whom fell foul of the sheer stupidity of Nokia's design. Stupid thing. Still, at least Open House at Steve and Anne's in Cranfield was good - giving the Wednesday group a try for a change!

A better day today, so far, though. Fizzy Coke, no nasty threatening letters, and the cooler, damper weather I am sure will calm the pollen down a little.

When I finally got through to Orange customer services yesterday evening, I can't say I found their response terribly encouraging. As you may recall, this all started a little under a month ago when they sent me a bill for well over a hundred pounds, when it should have been thirty or so at the most.

When I phoned them at the time, the lady eventually recalled a memo explaining that all Everyday 50 bills had been miscalculated. I'd have thought a memo like that would have been pinned to every employee's forehead - but I guess most people pay by Direct Debit so would have been automatically stung and may not even have realised it until their bank balance went into the red. She advised me to pay what I would consider my "normal" monthly bill, and that everything would be sorted out when the next bills were issued.

That may still happen, I guess, but the bloke I talked to last night could give me no assurances whatsoever that the computer that stupidly sent out the stiff reminder received yesterday wouldn't also automatically cut me - and presumably thousands of other Everyday 50 users who justifiably don't trust automatic payment of bills - off in a couple of weeks' time. He was most apologetic though, explaining that just because Orange was a communications company, it didn't mean it was always too great at its own internal communications and he sounded pretty fed up with it all actually.

But I am still fairly confident all will be fine, because the demand received yesterday was for the original miscalculation minus the forty pounds I decided was a more than fair amount to pay, so hopefully when the next proper bill comes out it will be back to normal but with a few pounds lopped off it. If the computer remains over-zealous - why not just turn it off if it's broken? - and they haven't applied the promised correction, though, it'll be time to say bye-bye to my phone connection, shortly followed no doubt by my contract with Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd...

We shall see.

I find the lack of any mention of these problems on Google - web or newsgroups - faintly disturbing. Or does everyone use Direct Debit these days?

Balance. It seems that balance is everything. Having a somewhat better day otherwise meant that something that had been good was likely to turn sour. So today I am mostly ruing the day I ever decided to be a computer programmer, and I now hate this stupid microprocessor simulator project with a passion.

I have, officially, had enough. Let that go on record for posterity.

This evening was, officially, pretty much no better. Time for bed now though.

Goodness only knows why, but I almost shed a small tear when the result from the Brazil-England came through. I guess not because I give much of a hoot about it, or football in general - though from what I saw of it before leaving for work, it looked quite an entertaining match, and I can enjoy such things - but simply because the hopes and dreams of so many rested on it, and up until half time "proper", everything looked so good. Mind you, looking on the bright side, the car-park was practically empty at nine this morning, and I managed to get the best spot there. Sam suspiciously arrived just a few minutes after the match finished, but I must remember he hates sport and has no television...

I wasn't going to mention this, but there are some things that perhaps just need to be got into the open, so as to stop things festering. Most users of Monochrome will be aware of a not-so-little run-in between a couple of one-time friends, where personal animosity has clouded sensible diplomacy. A huge can of worms has been opened in the process that could well destroy Monochrome as we know it, judging by the tone of some people. All I would like to say is that I only have to look back to last November to recall when one of the same people - and the same initial troublemaker - decided to pick a fight with me and get me into trouble thanks to being a "darling" of far too many people in influential roles. Thankfully that run-in was resolved quietly and without great formality, and I believed that admin in particular had learned something from the episode. But it's happened again, and worse, so clearly not.

Aaargh, if last night was frustrating and generally not too brilliant, it was made still worse by news this morning that it was all in vain. I shall not go into details, not wishing to cause embarrassment to the person most directly involved. But suffice to say I have had to do more than a little tongue-biting over the last couple of days, for the sake of diplomacy and friendship...

Generally a somewhat better day today than the last couple, deciding I like Java a little bit again now, though not overwhelmingly so, due to its unnecessary complexity and inconsistency in some areas. Lots of walking this evening, which is good for me, strolling down to and round Willen Lake and back, then almost immediately going with Sarah and Rachael for a little more of the same. Rather urgently need a bath now though, and an early night, because I have quite a busy day coming up tomorrow! And no, it involves neither the Open University Open Day nor the H3 Festival, in case you were wondering.

Bath enjoyed, mother phoned, nightcap consumed ... so you know what's next!


Up before nine on a Saturday again... Yes, I know! But loads of stuff to do today, mainly up in the centre, but not entirely. I'm even going to do a very rare thing indeed and make a shopping list, otherwise I just know I'll forget something important I meant to do or buy. So I'd best get a move on now!

The other day I realised I ought to cut back on my alcohol consumption. Today I realised what a mistake I made. Not sure I've ever "needed a drink" more than this evening - what a day this has been... It was going to be a busy enough day even if everything had gone to plan, but it plainly didn't. But somehow - goodness knows how - I still managed to do everything I'd intended.

But right now, I need another nightcap...

Eek, up before nine on a Sunday, and a no-church Sunday too. Despite having only eventually got to bed at pushing two o'clock... I wonder if that same market stall as changed my watch battery for a couple of pounds yesterday is any good at fixing troublesome body-clocks?

Finally a chance to relax today, put some music on - Kraftwerk doing the honours in that regard for the first time in ages - and generally unwind after this all too hectic weekend.

It was probably just as well I was up early this morning, because it gave me a good chance to put the final touches to something I'd started yesterday when I was called out on my mercy mission that rather changed the character of the whole day. Tim needed a backing track for a rap that's forming part of the new schools work venture his Bridgebuilder team is starting imminently, and Gareth kindly volunteered my services. Thankfully in the twenty minutes or so yesterday before I received my emergency phone-call, Tim and I managed to agree what I was going to do, so it was just a matter of finding a few minutes to record it and pop it on to a CD.

En-route to taking Laura out to buy her mum a birthday present I dropped the CD - and a cassette copy I thought I might as well do too - off at Tim's, and all before I'd probably have been out of bed on a Sunday given the choice and a sensible body-clock... I treated Sarah and the girls to a KFC lunch afterwards, with Sarah quite exhausted after a tough weekend too and not too inclined to cook, and now here I am back at home, taking down the tempo a bit for a little while at least!

While the bulk of my decent CDs are in a big heap on my floor that I cannot be bothered to sort out right now, what better opportunity to catch up with a load of stuff I haven't played for years. And most excellent it all is too, I had clearly forgotten! Consequently, currently playing is Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy, from circa 1990. "I'm Flashback Jack, I put the freshness back!"

And now, having enjoyed a most pleasant mid-evening lakeside stroll with Sarah and Rachael, flavour of the musical moment is Mr Aphex Twin, with his "Selected Ambient Works 85-92". Mmmm, yes! Not so many words in this stuff, though...

And now, almost thoroughly unrefreshed after this crazy weekend, here I am back at work, trying hard to remember the details of the brainwave I had as I was walking round Willen Lake on Friday evening. I think I can just about recall it, so I now just need to see whether Java will let me do as I intend...

But then Jon said "Oh no, you don't have to do it that way at all; if you set it up properly it all happens automatically anyway." And about six hours later I got the "setting it up properly" bit done, with Sam's considerable help... Still sure it would have been quicker to have done it as I'd first planned!

Anyway, almost time to head home, and then head off out to the Kingston Tavern with a few others to celebrate Sarah's birthday. Should be a fun evening!

My word, an evening that really did go pretty much to plan! Hooray! Good company - well, most of the time anyway - good food and good drink.

Now it's Tuesday, and another slightly bleary-eyed day gets off to a typically slow start. At least, for the first time in ages, I was up in time for some modest apology for breakfast. Significantly though, it was also an opportunity to start using the St John's Wort supplement I bought on Saturday. Several people had recommended I try it as a "pick-me-up", so I thought it was worth giving a go. It's a little alarming that the active ingredient appears to be similar to one Al Qaeda were caught refining into a deadly nerve agent for terrorist use. I guess that's the nature of a lot of medicine though, treating with very small amounts of dangerous substances - bearing in mind we still use dressings impregnated with extract of deadly belladonna, and of course immunise against many conditions by using controlled doses of the problematic allergen.

Now it's Wednesday, getting close to lunchtime, and almost half way through the week. I'd have to say, work's actually being quite good lately. Yes, Java has me tearing what little hair I have left at least half a dozen times a day, but it's quite rewarding when I get things working as planned and without having had to be too devious to do so. Today I need to try and plug in some code that Jon wrote the other day, though the underlying data model he was using was quite different to my own so I'm not sure how easy that's going to be. If I can get it working by close of business today that would be superb though!

I still need to be considering my future, job-wise, because there isn't going to be any magical promotion appearing out of the woodwork for the foreseeable future, so September is still a bit of a crunch point, but at least it's not depressing me too horrendously right now. I'm not getting complacent though!

Talking of futures and so on, I now have a couple of possible openings for where to move to when I inevitably get kicked out of my current house in a couple of months when Mark moves out to take up an overseas teaching job. That's assuming I am still in Milton Keynes at all when that time arrives, but it's looking increasingly likely that I will be, whereas not so long ago I really wasn't too sure for various reasons. The options range from a room in another house right up to a whole house - so I just need to decide what I can afford, what is conveniently located for work, church and everything else, and what is sufficiently flexible for me contract-wise in these uncertain days.

Last night was good, popping along to the "prayer and cake" meeting at Steve and Anne's in Cranfield. It was about the third such gathering they'd organised, but the first I'd been able to make it along to, and it was well worth the lengthy drive out into the sticks. Tonight I plan to persevere a little with the Wednesday Open House group, this week moving to its new permanent - well, as permanent as these things ever are - venue in Bletchley.

But for now, time to finish this diary entry off, wrap up this morning's work, and toddle off to lunch. I wonder what'll be on the menu today?

Marinated chicken strips with chips and salad, in the end. At the pavilion bar, for a most pleasant change. Must vary lunch venue more often...

Don't feel at all good this afternoon though - not that I blame the chicken at lunch for a moment, it was lovely and tender and spot-hitting par excellence. I'll see how I go as far as this evening's gathering is concerned; Lucy hasn't yet replied to my text asking if she wants a lift or not, so I'm not going to feel too obliged to martyr myself unnecessarily. I think the main trouble is that I'm simply way too hot, with this weather really getting the better of me. But I'm not going to seriously grumble, 'cos it would only be to follow our less than proud national tradition of complaining no matter what - always too hot, too cold, too damp, too dull... Can't win, really - but we have to make the best of it, until it physically does us in, anyway!

Mmmm, comfort food. Feel better already.

More comfort food, still undecided about going out tonight though. Need to make a decision in the next few minutes... Just not at all sure I'll be able to cope with another long evening out. I think I'll make my apologies.

Lucy's decided to have a quiet evening in too, so all guilt absolved. Almost.

Not that I managed too early a night in the end though, but at least it was a relatively unhectic evening. Spent a couple of hours of it on the phone to various people, which certainly did not hasten my bedward journey... Anyway, today Jon's continued with the subversion of his software team and beyond, with the Allotment SIG (special interest group) "site visit", which was rather more centred on drinking in the Plough than weeding with the hoe. Not that I have an allotment, or any great interest in owning one, but the invitation was open. This followed hot on the heels of last week's technology team beer-break at the Olde Swan - also, strangely, convened by Jon. I swear he's up to something!

Was just about to go and get some comfort food to see me through the afternoon, then realised the afternoon is pretty much done with, bar about twenty minutes!

I was pondering doing a two-month update about "stuff" today, but for a number of reasons, I'm not going to. Life's not that bad; my eyes are fixed intently forward, and I am anticipating the future, not analysing the past.

And today is another day. A Friday, to be precise, so the weekend is not too far away. In some ways it's been a long week, in others I'm really not at all sure where it's gone... Time does things like that, working on two levels - and that seems to apply both in the short and long terms. But anyway, the main thing is that the weekend is but a few hours away. No, I'm not even remotely sure what I'm going to be doing yet, but I am entirely sure I need it.

Yesterday evening I drove down to Willen Lake with Sarah, the girls and our friend Margaret. Well, we took two cars, because my boot was loaded up the girls' bikes, something we'd been promising for a while. It was nice to get out for a little while, and the girls had a good ride around while us grown ups took things in a more leisurely fashion and generally put the world to rights. Three singles, all through different circumstances, but so much to share!

Another Saturday, another morning I was up before eight, after struggling for the preceding week to get out of bed in time for work. What's wrong with me?

Was a good evening yesterday, though, going out for a pizza with Mark, Matt, and Mark's brother Stephen who's visiting for the weekend. Oh, and then we went to watch Spider-man, which was excellent. A few crises blew up in my absence, so needed some attention upon my return, but I guess c'est la vie...

Reserving judgement on whether today was a good day. Pizza for the third day on the trot was definitely welcome though. Much maligned foodstuff, I say.

Seems to be the in thing to do these A-to-Z things, so here's mine:

A is for Amersham Hospital, where I was born 32 years ago. What better a way to kick off this A-to-Z of me and my life?
See also: B, G
B is for Buckinghamshire, the county where I've spent all bar about three years of my life to date. I grew up in the south of the county and now live and work in the north, with only two years in Southampton and a year near Basingstoke - also in Hampshire, oddly enough - to interrupt things.
See also: A, D, O, U
C is for Christianity, my faith. I remember once filling out an application form and being told I was supposed to put some denomination down. Well tough; although denominations are hard to avoid, they are pretty meaningless and do not even begin to describe my faith in Christ my saviour.
See also: V
D is for degree. It took me two attempts over a period of seven years, first failing to get one in Electronic Engineering at Southampton, but eventually passing with flying colours when after a couple of years I went back to college in High Wycombe and walked away with a First in Computer Engineering.
See also: B, L
E is for eating. But sadly probably not so much for exercise. I was quite a slight child, making the average rake look overweight, but all that seems to have gone out of the window in more recent years. I used to be a very fussy eater, and tended towards quite healthy stuff, but I'm not at all sure now.
See also: P
F is for friends and family - who they are and what they represent to me. People who will stand by me no matter what, who are prepared to share in my happiness and sadness, and for whom I can do the same. It is in times of crisis that my real friends prove who they are most spectacularly.
See also: K
G is for Gosnell, my family name. I can't say I'm terribly keen on it, but I do have a certain amount of pride in it nowadays, as with my otherwise somewhat dated-sounding middle names of Thomas and Edward, which have just as much heritage. I can't ever really avoid it, so perhaps that's just as well!
See also: A
H is for hayfever. I've suffered from it since I was really quite little, but at least I don't need to have injections any more. I've tried a variety of tablets over the years, but for the last couple of seasons I've been using Beconase nasal spray and it really is true that it's much better!
I is for internet. At college we had the most rudimentary internet access, even though the world wide web was growing rapidly, but we had a modem at my first proper workplace and I was soon involved in building our website. Between email, the web and Monochrome, the internet has become a pretty major influence in my life, self-evidently from the fact that you're reading this!
See also: M, T
J is for justice. I hate seeing people being downtrodden, or being prevented from fulfilling their life ambitions and potential. Everyone has the right to feel safe, secure and confident, to have a home and a loving family, and it is one of the true evils in the world that so many do not respect that.
See also: Q, Y
K is for keeping in touch. I'm really not much cop at it, and for all my intent to do so with various people from stages in my past, it rarely seems to happen. I guess I like to keep my circle of friends quite tight-knit, and hanging on to certain elements of my past isn't always very helpful anyway.
See also: F
L is for learning. Seems a large part of my life has been taken up with it, without even going into the more metaphorical aspects! Fourteen years at school, five years at university and college, and now another six years working on the other side of the academic fence, so to speak.
See also: D, O
M is for mobile phone. I never thought I'd want one, but I succumbed last year and am now not too sure how I would survive without it. Cheap evening and weekend nattering and internet access without having to worry about upsetting my housemates by monopolising the BT line. I'm a text messaging addict too, at one point sending and receiving up to 300 a month!
See also: I
N is for never. Sometimes it seems like there are things I would like to happen that never will, no matter how close I may occasionally get. But "never" is not a word I like to use. Never say never, they do say...
See also: X
O is for Open University, where I currently work as an educational software designer. I'm not amazingly happy there at the moment, but it all goes through phases and I have a good bunch of colleagues there, so I really am quite unsure what to do in the medium term.
See also: B, L
P is for pizza. As I said very recently, a much maligned foodstuff. What's wrong with cheese, tomato and bread, let alone peppers, onions and so on? Oh, OK... It's a rare thing indeed that I turn down the opportunity for one!
See also: E
Q is for Queen Elizabeth II. I'm not a royalist really, but feel the Queen and the royal family as a whole come in for a lot of unfair criticism and antipathy. Yes, they do have their more obnoxious members, but that makes them just the same as any other family, really.
See also: J
R is for reading. I don't do anywhere near enough of it, and despite being really quite literate, I'm not actually that good at it. The mechanics are fine, but my mind wanders far too easily and all too often I can find I've read a ream of pages and not taken in a word of it.
S is for Springfield. Not where all the inhabitants are yellow and have four fingers per hand, but the neighbourhood within Milton Keynes where I currently live, renting a room in a shared house. I may have to move soon, since the owner's going to work abroad for a while, though there's quite a good chance I'll just go elsewhere in Springfield.
T is for television. I don't actually watch much of it, but can quite appreciate a bit of BBC News 24 to clue me up on the day's happenings before I head to work. It occurred to me last night that it's quite possible that when I move I won't have a television as such. I won't really miss it, especially since I can watch DVDs on my computer easily enough.
See also: I
U is for unicorns. Not the beasts whose appearance signifies overdue changes to Monochrome, but a reference to Last Unicorn, the company near Basingstoke I worked for immediately after I finally graduated. It was named by the boss's daughter, after one of her favourite stories and films.
See also: B
V is for Vineyard, the church I belong to here in Milton Keynes at the moment. They're not perfect - what church is? - but I feel quite comfortable there, and it's a good place to be while my future in MK remains a little uncertain.
See also: C
W is for water, probably my favourite drink, at least when out and about and wine's out of the question. I will often be offered a range of hot drinks and juices but end up politely opting for a lovely glass of tap water!
X is for eXperience. Life's chucked quite a lot at me especially over the last ten years or so, but I strongly feel that if I can't learn and benefit from these events, no matter how negative, it's all wasted experience.
See also: N
Y is for you. You care enough about me that you bother reading this, so I at least faintly care about you too. In fact I would anyway even if you didn't, but it does help if you make yourself known to me 'cos I'm not telepathic!
See also: J
Z is for zzzzzzzz. I need a lot of sleep, and I don't necessarily get it. Although it is apparently a myth that children need all the sleep they are encouraged to get, it is generally accepted that we need less as we get older. Unless you're me, that is.

Having been to watch Spider-man the other day, I believe it to be high time that the whole film certification thing was overhauled, because it's plainly ineffectual. Quite a big deal was made about that particular film, and how dreadful it was that the BBFC decided to grant it a "12" certificate when a number of people thought it should have got a "PG" - but more based on the fact that their children were going to nag them to break the rules than because the film was particularly suitable for youngsters.

Some local councils and cinemas were set to defy the BBFC and naively impose their own "PG" certification, but here in Milton Keynes the decision was upheld, although the cinemas are displaying apologies and encouraging people to write to the BBFC to complain. But if people do write to complain, it shouldn't be that "12" was the wrong certificate, rather that it's time to throw out this clearly outmoded way of rating films' content - especially since for all the threats of spot checks and so on, there were some decidedly young looking supposed 12-year-olds in the cinema on Friday, so it's not working anyway. Remember too that a "PG" film might as well be a "U", unless cinemas start demanding written parental consent from their younger customers.

It's time the powers that be acknowledge that children are not all the same, that they have different sensitivities at different ages as they grow up at different rates, and that different parents may have justifiable reasons to be concerned about different issues as they affect their children. Ridiculed though the American CAPAlert website may be for its sensationalist Christian fundamentalist film reviewing, at least they have grasped the concept that the eventual certification of the film is more or less meaningless in the way it currently seems to be done almost universally.

There would appear to be three main areas which concern people, to some extent, about what children - or indeed anyone, adults can be affected too, you know? - may be subjected to in watching a film. That's to say, sex, violence and bad language. Now, in reaching their eventual certifications, the BBFC must surely analyse all these aspects, so why not actually make those the metric by which parents or any other concerned party may make their informed decision? So, rate the film's content with a five point scale on each of those aspects. Say make "A" the tamest and "E" the least appropriate for children. Off the top of my head, Spider-man might then be rated "B" for sex, "C" for violence and "B" fr bad language, for a total rating of "BCB". One extra letter than "PG" or "12", but so much more useful information.

Of course, a necessary byproduct of this is that the whole scheme would then become voluntary on the part of the general public, but it's probably high time that happened too given the evident lack of policing at present in any case.

At the same time, a change from the current way of doing things might help get away from the current ludicrous situation that a film cannot really be considerd to primarily target an adult audience unless it has plenty of sex, violence and bad language in order to get its "15" or "18" stamp. There have been cases of films having gratuitous stuff added just to make sure they get an adult-oriented certification - and not just to maintain Arnie's violent credibility. If the certificate granted accurately reflected the content of the film, informed decisions could be made. Just having the "U" certificate to denote no sex, violence or bad language, with a "c" suffix to denote films parents ought additionally to abandon their kids for, frankly doesn't cut it.

Far too many long entries today. Here's a short one. Goodnight.

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