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David's diary: April 2003

This isn't at all good. I'm sitting here apathetically like I'm working out my notice of resignation - but with the slight problem that I've not resigned. At least not yet, anyway. Needless to say, the microprocessor simulation has had to be put on ice for a few more days yet, with - yep, guess what - spreadsheets coming to the fore again. Like they'll ever go away this side of my requesting my P45 back as soon as possible thank you very much, and don't even think of forcing me to work out my notice period you life-sucking leeches. But in this case it's still worse, because I don't know what I'm expected to do with the spreadsheets - but I am simply not capable of chopping and changing and keeping half a dozen projects on the go at once, so am disinclined from getting too engrossed in the microprocessor stuff just to drop it again and lose my step. Sorry if I'm useless like that, but I need time to get into a project and give it my best, and not knowing from one day to the next which of the highly urgent things I'm working on takes priority does not exactly help with that. Hmm, this is all coming over rather confused and irrational. I wonder why that is?

That was another pretty nondescript day at work it has to be said, mainly spent waiting for piffling but nonetheless important information from uncooperative academics. I was very glad to head home come 5.30 in the afternoon, believe me. The only really redeeming feature of the day was having lunch with David at the Pavilion Bar for the first time in a couple of weeks, going for my usual sausage, ham and bacon pizza wedge with lashings of brown sauce and a decent portion of chips - and a mug of tea, of course! This evening has been somewhat better though, deciding I was too shattered to go to our Open House social at Sheree's house, so taking the opportunity to have one of the only decent chats I expect I'll manage with Katy before the weekend. As a result of said chat, we have some semblance of a plan for the weekend, which I'm looking forward to albeit with a small degree of hopefully understandable apprehension! Oh, and I took the regrettable but unavoidable step of standing down as church treasurer before I had hardly even started - a decision that has been graciously accepted by Matt, who quite understands that my own sanity has to take priority...

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together? OK, so it's not a terribly detailed one, but at least it means I have something to look forward to after tomorrow's over and done with. And it should be quite special too! But first I need to get tomorrow out of the way, hopefully in a productive manner. Today was another pretty grim day as far as work was concerned, feeling the mountain of collectively impossible demands on me growing higher and higher, with ever diminishing hope of being able to even start to scale it properly as it shifts around. I am now finding myself answering to no less than four people, and I simply don't have the conviction to remind any of them of the proper channels through which they should be approaching me - and they all expect immediate results, needless to say. I'm looking forward to the weekend - and will need it, most definitely - but first I have tomorrow to get through, and I have a horrible feeling it will feel interminable in the extreme, and that the weekend will, conversely, pass by all too quickly and leave me in a daze come Monday.

OK, so it wasn't my most productive day ever at work, but I got some important stuff done nonetheless, spreadsheet-wise, so I'm not grumbling. I had a flat inspection at lunchtime, so headed back home for that and had a good natter with Bob from the letting agency who I think I had only ever previously spoken to on the phone. Then off to Boots at Kingston, to attempt to swap out the electric toothbrush my mum gave me for Christmas that had started to play up over the last few days. Obviously, I had no receipt, but they were happy to either exchange it or give me a refund in vouchers. They didn't have any of that particular model in stock, and there wasn't anything else there that looked an immediately appropriate replacement - and would have had comparably low running costs - so I went for the refund. I think Tesco sell something suitable; I will have a look when I go there this evening as I planned anyway. Finally, had one of the new chicken salsa flatbread meals at McDonalds, which was rather tasty I have to say, and then drove home and walked back to work.

And now, with five minutes to go, that concludes my exciting day!

I suppose I'd better be going to bed. Had a reasonable evening, the highlights being two phone-calls with Katy, finalising arrangements for tomorrow and of course simply having a jolly good natter! I just hope my dreams tonight can be better than those last night - or at least what I can remember of them. Must just remember that dreams are, first and foremost, our mind's way of clearing out the detritus of the day that's gone before - no more nor no less. What's done is done and what's gone is gone; I just hope this particular detritus can be cleared for good and that I can truly keep my eyes looking forward now...

I'm pretty sure that was a better night's sleep. I'm not sure how refreshing it was - I seem to remember waking up quite a lot and finding it hard to return to sleep - but it definitely didn't have as distressing dreams. I'm not quite certain why I am up so early, given that I have very little to do until I leave for Katy's mid-afternoon and could quite possibly have made good use of another couple of hours' sleep, but sometimes it seems these things are just not to be.

Oh, I managed to get a replacement electric toothbrush at Tesco last night, as I'd hoped. I'm not sure quite how good it is, but it uses an oscillating head that I seem to recall a recent survey considered the most effective technology, and it was cheap enough that I won't be too upset if it turns out to be a dead loss. I'll "give it a whirl" soon! The recharging cradle is a bit on the buzzy side though, for something that is supposed to be left connected to the mains all the time, but I don't think that was what was woke me last night!

Right, well I'm more or less ready to go! I know this weekend is nothing to worry about, but I'm still a little bit apprehensive nonetheless. It brings back memories of previous - and equally informal, I have to add - occasions, with a bit of a sense of déjà vu even though each such occasion and each set of circumstances has of course been unique in its own way. I guess I look back and think of all that happened afterwards in each case, and once again I feel I'm standing at a crossroads, with a potentially all-too-familiar pattern to the journey lying ahead. I just hope this can be a different one, I really do.

Now safely back home, after a rather tedious journey back to Milton Keynes - the M25 being particularly slow - that took about half as long again as it should have. Sarah phoned soon after I had left Katy's, and I stopped at a service area on the A3 to call her back, and agreed to stop at hers for a bite of tea when I was back in town. But it really was just a bite, and looked a bit "nouveau cuisine" with just a few bits of chicken and a couple of pieces of broccoli, but it was really all I could eat having had a very filling - and amazingly good value - Chinese set lunch with Katy in Farnham. Early nights for everyone, with a busy day ahead for them tomorrow, and I'll be off to bed myself pretty soon I suspect. No Monday Morning Meeting tomorrow, though - let me be thankful for such occasional small mercies - but I still need sleep...

As for the rest of the weekend, well it went very pleasantly indeed. I had a completely trouble-free journey down - unlike the one back - so was there in very good time. But our intention to go to a church barbecue for tea turned out to be unsuccessful, with it all being gobbled up by the time we arrived, a mere twenty minutes after it had started! Thankfully Katy had a back-up plan, so we shared a pizza and familiar accompaniments before heading round to her parents' house where I was to stay the night. As I had expected, meeting Katy's parents was nothing to have got at all worried about, and we all had a nice relaxed evening over a bottle of wine I'd brought. Before too long though, it was time for Katy to head home, and me to head for bed via doing a couple of bits of her parents' 2000-piece jigsaw just crying out for help.

My night's sleep in the spare room wasn't quite as settled as it could have been; I shall remember to take my sleeping mask if I stay there again, since it wasn't quite as dark as I had initially thought, and I had a couple of panics as a result. But I still felt reasonably raring to go by the time I needed to get up, and after a bite of breakfast - quite probably home-baked bread - I agreed to go for a brisk stroll round the block with Katy's dad Rob which definitely finished waking me up! I was a little apprehensive about that, half expecting a "now then, young man" type chat, but I should have known better than that really, and we ended up talking mainly about my work. Katy's mum had left early to play keyboard at church, so it was Katy's job to pick Rob and me up, arriving a well-timed couple of minutes after we'd got back from our walk!

Church in the morning was fine, and not really what I was expecting, to be honest! Katy's church is a Pioneer church, and I had my preconceptions about what it would be like, especially given that they have their own premises and so on. Illogical reasoning I know, but that's just the way it goes sometimes! But anyway, the service was really good, and allowed plenty of opportunity for God to move and for people to be ministered to, without feeling pushed for time or overrunning seriously. It was also good that I had been to the barbecue the evening before, no matter how briefly, because it meant not everyone was a new face, though I can't remember more than a few of the names, I'm afraid to say. I don't forget faces though, so it will be better next time I'm sure. But anyway, having had a coffee and a natter, we hit town for that Chinese lunch!

Thoroughly sated with copious quantities of chicken satay, prawn toast, spicy pork ribs, seaweed, crispy aromatic duck, sweet and sour pork, beef in black bean sauce, chilli chicken, egg rice, ice cream and coffee - all for a piffling twenty quid between the two of us - we felt a walk in the park was justified. Not quite what I was expecting, compared with say Campbell Park here in Milton Keynes, and it was quite bracing out, with no sign of the promised sunshine for the afternoon, but it was good to get out and work off at least a little of that lunch. I'm not sure I would have managed even those odd scraps of chicken and broccoli at Sarah's later otherwise! Finally, to Katy's friends Simon and Becki's house for a short while as we had hoped, who it was good to meet, and then it was time to say our bye-byes for the day and for me to hit the road.

So there you go... As when Katy visited a fortnight ago, it was lovely to be able to take things gently, to do a comfortable amount of things and to meet a manageable number of people without feeling dragged from pillar to post. And then, at the end of it, to be able to part company at a reasonable time of day without feeling that you've eaten into quality time that could have been spent together. Not, of course, to say that by five or six o'clock we're fed up with each other's company, but by then we can feel we've had a pleasantly fulfilled weekend without having pushed ourselves beyond the limit of what's sensible. Of course, then I blew it all with a fairly insane evening round at Sarah's, but some things simply cannot be anticipated, and in their case it will be the last chance I get to see them for a few days. Anyway, to bed now, swiftly!

Monday. Mundane.

Also a bit lonely, not only compared with the weekend, but also because both Tim and Sam were away today for different reasons, so I've been all on my own at the office here. Thankfully, unlike last week a few of my other colleagues are around, so lunch wasn't a completely solo affair. Oh, and I'm going round to see Sam this evening anyway, since he's being ever so conscientious and has asked that I bring him some Java stuff on a CD so he can work from home while he recovers from whatever it is that's the matter. He also wants to show me his new GameCube, which I hasten to add is not the reason for his absence from work - I do believe him when he says he's strained a muscle and can't walk. I just wondered if he might need any shopping done, since from what he'd written in his blog it sounded like he was running desperately low, but he's apparently given Tesco's online ordering a whirl, and was expecting delivery this morning!

Oh, but the good news today is that the main bulk of spreadsheets that were annoying me are, officially, out of my hands for the moment. Now, there's a production meeting on Wednesday at which I am sure I will get an ear-bashing from one particular academic whose name I shall not mention, although I gather Bob's colleagues are running out of patience with him too. But anyway, towards the end of last week there was some discussion about whether we were going to make further endless changes to these spreadsheets or call it a day. Jon had advised that I did make the changes our academic friend had requested, even though it set an increasingly bad precedent, but Lara my project manager said no - though it turned out from a phone-call later that she was a bit confused about what had and hadn't been done. But it was all made totally irrelevant after I got emails from Sam and Rachel in QA to say that the CD-ROM in question had been mastered and that it was too late to do anything about it anyway! As I said, I am sure I will still be unpopular on Wednesday, but we should be able to spread the responsibility around a little bit for not acquiescing this time.

Anyway, it's now more or less time for me to head home, and see what kind of appetite I have managed to regain after getting so stuffed at the weekend!

Last night was quite fun, mainly spent visiting Sam, still hobbling somewhat! As expected, I didn't have a colossal appetite, so was able to go round there in good time to take him his Java stuff and some new anti-spam software on a CD. I tried playing the couple of games he'd got for his new GameCube, namely Super Mario Sunshine and Rogue Leader, and did pretty direly, but they were visually superb I have to say, and I am sure that with perseverance I could get better. But I'm not really into gaming like that so I am sure I won't, and I was very happy to let Sam get on with playing them while I could marvel at the incredible graphics! Then I had a look at - and a go with - Sam's harp, which he's been learning to play over the last few months, and again I was rather happier letting him do the demonstrating, though it's very difficult to make an instrument like that sound awful. We even tried doing a duet of sorts, with him on the harp and me on his BassStation keyboard, and it vaguely worked...

But I didn't want to be late home, especially since Katy had phoned while I was at Sam's and I had promised I would call her back upon my return home. That I duly did, though she confessed she was answering the phone from the comfort of her bed, and wanted a reasonably early night, so we didn't talk for too long in the end. But Katy could nevertheless report back that other people's comments about me from the weekend were favourable, which as I said before may not be the most important thing but is certainly encouraging, especially when I can count her own parents amongst those people. Of course, long-term diary readers will know I've been through similar experiences before, but given that Katy is pretty well versed in what's happened to me over the last couple of years, I am much more confident that positive feedback is for the right reasons this time rather than to push some selfish agenda being hidden from me until it's too late to go back without destroying the fabricated hopes and dreams of so many.

Today's being dull though.

Katy asked last night whether she's allowed to have unhidden selfish agendas. She may have been joking, but I wasn't when I said she was allowed! We all need occasionally to look out for "number one", and I've certainly been all too guilty of not doing so at times in the past and intend not to make that mistake again if I can possibly help it. Doing so doesn't necessarily mean trampling all over others and their feelings, either. In a healthy relationship, what's good for one party is probably good for the other too, and certainly shouldn't have a destructive effect anyway. So I'm not going to hesitate to think of my own needs and so on now and then, but I'm going to try very hard indeed not to hide them and pretend my motivation is anything other than what is the truth. And if I'm allowed to do that, so is Katy. There, said it... It's allowed!

As for today, well we had a production meeting this afternoon for the course with the biggest load of spreadsheets associated with it. Thankfully my least favourite academic - I didn't really mean to name Bob the other day, sorry Bob - wasn't there, so no-one offered any argument when I told them how things were with the software. There's only one more spreadsheet for the course this year, and that's basically done, though I need to meet with Karen off the course team on Monday to discuss some rights problems over a few photographs in it. This whole course really has been a nightmare from start to finish, with just about everything that has happened being entirely predictable given those involved. But at least it should now more or less be over and done with, and others more important than I can be left to at least try and learn from the mistakes made.

Oh, and I got a new mouse for my computer this morning. Strictly speaking, two, actually! I had reported that my mouse was faulty, although still usable, and had requested an optical replacement if possible. IT Support had said it would be a few days until the next optical mice would be in stock, and I agreed to wait until then. But Tina unexpectedly popped over this morning to drop off an old "balled" mouse, which I queried, and she knew nothing of my request for a modern optical one. However, minutes later she emailed to say an optical one had arrived a bit earlier than expected, so I did the walking and collected it from her office. OK, so it's not a Microsoft mouse but some obscure and cheap Taiwanese brand, but it plugged straight in and worked without a hitch, and I'm sure I will grow used to its imperfect ergonomics. Bye bye mouse-mat, anyway!

Yesterday evening was quite busy, getting together the stuff relating to the church accounts for passing back to Matt, then going to Open House via Matt and Jill's to drop said stuff off. Matt was busy getting Aimée to bed when I arrived so we didn't get much chance to chat, though I wasn't expecting it to be anything more than a flying visit anyway so I wasn't too bothered. Open House was good, but made for a very long evening once Di had given her lengthy but interesting testimony, and someone half-inched my bible - I am sure quite unintentionally... Not so sure about my keyboard playing during the worship; it's something I'd like to be able to do, but it will need a lot more practice, and I was mightily glad to be well "carried" by Richard, Shona and Simon!

Tonight's promising to be busy once again. Sarah and the girls expect to need collecting from the railway station fairly late this evening - depending upon exactly when their train gets in, needless to say - and Gareth has just emailed me to ask if I can urgently put together a demo CD for one of his promoted acts, which will quite likely take a couple of hours too. Oh, and Tim from my old church is hopefully going to be dropping off my old MIDI keyboard at some point this evening, being about the last time I expect to be around before he emigrates. I don't particularly want it back, but nor is it really practical for him to take it away with him, so I guess I'll have to make space for it - though I might be able to sell it or find someone to donate it to I suppose.

Anyway, I now have a one-to-one meeting with Nigel, my Media Account Manager - he's trying to meet with all of his team this week I get the impression - so I'd better be finding out exactly where that's happening, and duly going there!

That was a bit of a waste of a trip, but at least I now know where Nigel's office is for future reference, on the third floor of a building most people don't even know has three floors. Nigel wasn't there when I arrived, and his door was locked, so I put the world to rights with Ross in the office next door until he appeared. He was extremely apologetic that something else urgent had come up, and that our meeting would have to be rearranged. Still, at least I got out of this stuffy office for a little while, and got a slightly more frank than average account of what's going on from Ross - perhaps enough to give me hope that there might be something a bit better over the horizon. Just maybe.

Ninn was right, that diary entry that you might have imagined having been here until a few minutes ago was rather scathing, and not entirely in the spirit of wishing the best for those who were once going to be rather more permanently sealed as part of my life this coming Saturday. I don't wish Claire or Jessica ill for a moment - and I mean that, utterly and totally - though I am still mightily glad I became aware of the truth a year ago and no later. I cannot ignore what was to have been in a couple of days' time, but in so doing I must - as Ninn wisely advised - focus on the "now to's" rather than the "what if's".

As for this evening, well everything went pretty much to plan, thankfully. I managed to find some suitable tracks for Gareth's demo and played them to him over the phone before committing them to a CD-R. While I was sorting that out, Tim made his flying visit to drop off the keyboard - minus the mains adapter I am 99% certain I loaned him but he flatly denies, but never mind, there are far more important things in life to worry about. Then en-route to the station to collect Sarah and the girls I dropped off the aforementioned CD at Gareth and Tash's new house in Woolstone, and of course was treated to an impromptu guided tour of their not especially humble abode! Finally to the station, where the 21.27 train was thankfully bang on schedule. Oh, and not to forget a swift cuppa back at Sarah's and arrangements made for tomorrow since no-one else has come forward to offer the girls a lift up to their dad's for the weekend.

Now back at home, and relaxing for a few minutes before I too head for bed!

It really would be nice to be able to end this week at work on a vaguely upbeat note. Mmm yes, "productive" and "enjoyable" would indeed be great, y'know...

It didn't end too badly. I didn't get everything done that I'd hoped today, but it wasn't a complete waste of time either. I was supposed to have had tea round at Sarah's before we hit the road to Peterborough, but we ended up at Kingston McDonalds instead as I had half anticipated I must admit. Alas Sarah wasn't feeling too good, and without going into excessive detail, her cheese melt didn't exactly stay down, with the girls under strict instructions not to mention it to their step-mum lest she get paranoid about a bug being around...

So the trip took a bit longer than anticipated, but I was back in time to give Katy a call before it was too late, and managed a decent chat before she headed to bed at a reasonable time. Unlike me, but I haven't got any real schedule before tomorrow evening, when I'm supposed to be going for a meal with Sarah, Claire - no, not that Claire! - and Margaret, though I wouldn't be surprised if those plans get curtailed a little. Hope not though, if only 'cos Margaret's said she can steam clean my passenger seat after tonight's little incident...

So, it's Saturday 12 April 2003, and it's just another day! Currently enjoying a slow start, but I'm going to hit the bathroom imminently, then phone Katy and probably go and do my shopping. Taken at a suitably leisurely pace that should all take me nicely up to about five o'clock when I'll need to think about going out for the evening. Today's going to be OK - no, really it is!

Indeed it all did, and I enjoyed my first walk out to Tesco in quite a long while, with another lovely sunny day and plenty of time to kill. Margaret arrived at Sarah's at just about the same time as me, and we set straight to work on my car upholstery, with Margaret kindly offering to steam-clean the lot if I hoovered it out first. Definitely smells a little bit more wholesome now! Sarah did have a bit of a bug yesterday it seems, but she was willing to come out and play this evening anyway, although she was being careful what she ate, and we all parted company immediately upon our arrival back afterwards.

The evening was good, unsurprisingly spent at Ask in the snow-dome - always a safe bet, especially with older children in tow, being informal without being downmarket. I had my usual yummy embellished pizza choice, whilst the other three all had pasta of one form or another, although I ended up eating half of Claire's too since she was a bit short on appetite. Bumped into my colleagues Jane and newly-wed Fiona there, along with Fiona's husband Mark, which was a most welcome surprise - for me, anyway... And finally, off to McDonalds for desserts for those who had any room for them, not wishing to pay Ask's rather extortionate rates for their own - in sharp contrast to the excellent value of most of the rest of their menu. But yes, it was an excellent evening, with good company, and kept my mind healthily off any other matters, happily to say!

The weekend seems such a long time ago now, though it's only a four-day week this week, so there's not so long to wait until the next one - though plenty to do in the meantime nonetheless. Yesterday was fairly relaxed, going to church in the morning, then for lunch - pizza again I am ashamed to admit - with Lucy. That was via Safeway, to get some CD-Rs for Gareth, but taking the opportunity to get a bottle of Febreze to hopefully purge Friday night's remnants from my car for good - as well as spotting the new Harry Potter DVD for £15.95, made still better when I was given a voucher for another two pounds off! Back at home I used a few of Gareth's aforementioned CD-Rs, which I must drop off to him sometime tomorrow evening hopefully, before popping round to David's for a bit for the first time in quite a while. He came back here for tea - being treated to my favourite pasta, sun-dried tomato and olive concoction - before we both needed some peace to phone our respective "significant others", hateful term though that may be. I got a fairly early night, but lay in bed watching about the first half of my earlier DVD purchase, so it was quite late by the time I actually got to sleep, and consequently I don't want too late a night tonight! I watched the latter half as well as a few of the considerable number of extras this evening while trying to work up some kind of appetite for tea, and have already had a jolly good natter with Katy, so hopefully I'll be able to manage that. So, without further ado, better start running that bath!

It's now far too hot to work productively - and even our lunchtime walk by the river was almost unbearable, though it would have been silly to waste such glorious weather. But work I must, if only so that I can say goodbye to this particular project for good - well, at least until next year - before Easter. I finally had quite my meeting this morning with Nigel, our media account manager, which amongst other things vaguely reassured me further that there may be hope yet for technology faculty software projects becoming interesting. I'll believe it when I see it, though, but at least the intent is there.

But anyway, only a couple more days and then it's Easter and I frankly will not care for four whole days, though it's all looking a bit "up in the air" as to exactly what's happening. Katy's hopefully coming up on Saturday, and I would like to go down to London on Monday to see her and others, but the latter's looking a bit shaky with yet more of the supposedly-finished engineering works on the West Coast mainline into the city that will transform what should have been a quick half-hour sprint into a tedious and quite probably impractical two-hour dawdle. There may still be ways, but it will need more discussion...

Urgh, I really don't feel on top of the world right now - though it's cold at the North Pole, so maybe that's just as well. This evening was supposed to have been a nice relaxed time after a busy day, but the day ended up somewhat hellish and the evening not really an awful lot better to be honest. The day's joys were mainly overshadowed by extreme office temperatures, buggy installer scripts and paper-jamming network printers, and this evening's by preparing and writing loads of CDs for Gareth that took considerably longer than anticipated. Still, at least I had a good chat with Katy for at least part of the evening - but it was definitely done in a multitasking mode with everything else, so I couldn't give her all the attention she undoubtedly deserved - and I've drawn up an invoice for Gareth that will provide some small compensation...

Really should be heading for bed now, though.

Incredibly I did find my way to bed soon after that, and managed a reasonable night's sleep. Thank goodness for the long weekend coming up, though; I will definitely need it regardless of what I end up doing. Today seems even hotter than yesterday, and despite dosing up with Beconase my eyes are still feeling the hayfever, though it's exacerbated by all the building work going on at the moment, with bitumen heavy on the atmosphere. Indeed, if it gets no better this afternoon I may have little choice but to go home early, though I hope not, because there's still too much I need to do, and Tim and I have a vague plan for making a bob or two that requires us to hang around until the last...

Sitting here gently roasting in what are apparently mid-August temperatures, I really am truly fed up with work now. Spreadsheets continue to curse me even when I'm not actually having to edit them. This time it's as I try to complete the third of a series of three CD-ROMs before Easter, but having to resign myself to the fact it's simply not going to happen thanks to general academic uselessness. There are two spreadsheets that really need to go on this CD-ROM; one I am decidedly unsure as to which is the definitive version, and the other seems simply to have disappeared without trace into the Bobmuda Triangle. Yes, I could cut the CD-ROM without them, but apparently they have been "promised". And now of course, anyone who's even vaguely sane has long since quit work for Easter, so the chance of getting any executive decision on this is next to nil.

As Rich and Shona said before they jetted off to Cyprus earlier today, the main thing is that they are anywhere but here. I can definitely relate to that.

And guess what? Not a word of reply to my queries about said spreadsheets. It really is true; everyone has disappeared off on leave already. Oh well, I'll just have to twiddle my thumbs aimlessly for a little longer, won't I? I'd love to get on with the microprocessor simulation stuff that is being pushed further and further back with every passing week of this nonsense, but I just know I'm not going to be remotely be able to dedicate myself to it for some time yet, and - even as blokes go - I'm exceptionally bad at multi-tasking.

Perhaps this is a good opportunity for a "bigger picture" update on a few key aspects of my life. This diary is a good outlet for a more anecdotal approach, but I can imagine that for many readers, trying to piece together the presented jigsaw to figure out what's really going on isn't always quite so easy.

Work-wise, well things lurch around, but the general theme of the moment seems to be spreadsheets. I am desperately unhappy with this situation as you may have gathered, and fearful that I might somehow get a reputation as the person best to approach when such things need to be done. In theory, there is an end in sight to all this, under our new departmental organisation, but old habits will die very hard on the part of the academics we have to deal with, so I'm really not amazingly hopeful of anything much improving for the time being. Consequently, with no further pay-rises on the cards except to cover inflation, I really should be looking to get out as soon as I can, but given many other uncertainties in life, I'm unwilling to commit to anything new at this point. Definitely a case of "better the devil I know", even if it's grinding me down.

Church is OK again, after the problems at the end of last year and at the beginning of this one. It's not perfect - what church is? - but I feel happier there than I had for quite a while. My stint as church treasurer was a short lived one, very quickly realising once I got down to it that I really didn't have the right mind nor the resources for the job. It was nice to be asked and to be trusted to do it, and I would like to find another outlet that is more appropriate to my abilities and facilities, but that was a mistake - although like all mistakes, one I can hopefully cheerfully learn from as I move ahead.

The flat's still there. I'm now well into the second six-month tenancy period, and I am sure it will be all too soon that the agents will be asking me whether I want to stay on for a third... By then I might be a bit clearer about what I'm doing and where I'm going, but for the time being I'm staying, and I don't mind it too much. It doesn't always seem much of a home to me, but it's where I live, and it's a convenient base for walking into work daily as well as being a marked improvement on where I was before from an immediate surroundings point of view. I sometimes miss the company of housemates, but equally changes in circumstances like that can be quite refreshing as I've found every time I've moved in the past, and I have enough friends within easy reach anyway.

Creatively, I've not had the chance to do a lot since I moved. Despite work being boring and often unproductive, I've also been very tired come the evening all too often, so haven't really been inclined to do anything too constructive with that time. It's not helped by the flat being small, so it's not at all practical to have musical things set up permanently, and far too much hassle to shift things around on a whim for the sake of an evening's inspiration that probably won't come to anything anyway. I'm back in the worship team at church - with Gareth leading, like in the old MKCF days - which helps keep me at least a little bit honed in that kind of regard, although it's been a while since I played regularly previously so I am a little bit rusty nevertheless.

Last but definitely not least, is the small matter of Katy. These last couple of months have seen the "anniversaries" of some key events from last year, as my relationship with Claire climbed towards its peak and then collapsed. As a result, these last few weeks could have been exceedingly difficult for me, but thanks to Katy being on the scene they've merely only been a bit tough. That's not to say for a moment that's Katy's sole reason for being here at the moment, but her presence has most definitely helped! We don't have any real idea where things are going for us, but we've enjoyed each other's company on quite a few occasions now, have chatted for hours on the phone, and have now at least made a start on meeting each other's family and friends. Sometimes I worry about whether the "normal" things are happening, whether I'm approaching things quite right, and so on, but I think my past - and ultimately limited - experiences have somewhat clouded my judgement and I am learning instead just to be myself. If Katy likes the "me" that I present whilst doing so - and I can do similarly with her - then that's the basis of an honest and healthy relationship that really could go somewhere worthwhile for us both. I must admit that I find the travelling between Milton Keynes and Farnham quite a strain and a drain, but - without wishing to cause any conclusions to be jumped to - that's just one of the things that is persuading me to stick with my current work right now, much as I hate it. It'll be a good test of our mutual resolve, whatever!

So there you go - my life as it stands, summarised in five short paragraphs...

Yesterday evening was busy, to say the least. As we'd intended, after work, Tim and I went on a little photo-assignment expedition. One of the slightly less cursed spreadsheets I am fine-tuning had a few embedded photographs the university was finding it impossible to trace copyright for, and we are quite strict about things like that, being the reputable institution we are. So at my meeting earlier in the week with the course manager, I said that if it came to it, I'd quite happily go out with a digital camera and shoot replacements. To which Karen then pointed out that their usual rate is fifty pounds per shot used - hence our very much deliberately going outside office hours and using non-university equipment, props and so forth. So I have a few candidate photos to sort through today of Tim's bicycle, Tim pretending to use miscellaneous parking meters, and Tim's "home office". We really don't know whether we will get paid for them - or even if they'll get used, due to a few other issues - but £150 split between the two of us would be most welcome, it was quite good fun anyway, and Tim needed to go into town to order a new bike in any case.

So by the time we'd done the photographing, Tim had ordered his bike and he'd run me home afterwards, time was getting on and I needed to get ready to go out to Open House. Managed to make time to take a phone-call from Katy though, so I got my priorities right - though I really would have rather had at least a shave before I'd gone out again! Open House was fairly good, and with a closer eye being kept on the clock, it both started and finished more promptly than usual - hopefully the start of a trend! Lucy needed running back to her flat afterwards, so it was pushing eleven by the time I was home properly, and midnight by the time I finally hit the sack. So as a result of all that I'm a bit tired this morning, but the eagerly-awaited - for just about every reason - long weekend is almost upon us so I'm really not too bothered, especially as I do not presently have anything much planned for Good Friday tomorrow.

Oh, and finally, I could very easily have been dictating this diary entry from a hospital bed after one little incident last night. Tim was driving us back to his flat from work, along the H5 Portway, which is a 70mph dual carriageway. We approached a roundabout, and we could hear a crescendo of screeching brakes from behind us. Moments later we were passed by a rather beaten up old white Audi. Going sideways. By some miracle, the idiot didn't hit anyone, and was able to continue - red-faced - on his way, but he didn't particularly seem to have learnt from his mishap as he sped off into the distance... We were just mightily thankful that the road tends to widen a bit at roundabouts, or Tim could certainly have lost the driver's side of his car, if not worse.

Hooray! For the first time ever, I am happy that one of our spreadsheets has got the go-ahead in its full intended glory. Mainly because that means that of the six photographs that will be contained therein - don't ask what photographs are doing in a spreadsheet in the first place, just remember that technology academics believe that Excel is a one-size-fits-all panacea - half were taken by me, and our rights department has been asked to sort out payment forthwith.

And lo, the weekend has started. This evening's been spent round at Sarah's, with her having a few computer problems as she tried to set up her new Open University course software. However, most of the problems were of a physical rather than software nature - i.e. plugs in the wrong sockets etc since she moved the machine recently. However there was a problem with the FirstClass set-up, since the Student Helpdesk had given her erroneous log-in information, including a user-name that was very plainly not her own! Alas all we could do with regard to the latter was - having phoned the Helpdesk again to determine Sarah's proper user-name - to wait for a new password to be manually assigned. Hopefully they can process that tomorrow, since they are essentially open for business despite it being Good Friday. But at least we got sound and the internet working again, and then enjoyed a late al-fresco tea in the cool of the dwindling twilight. Laura's good-influence friend Jessica was staying for the night, and brought her mum with her for a natter which was nice. However, everyone was pretty tired by that time and once I'd read Sleeping Beauty to Rachael, the older girls were preparing their sofa-beds and Jessica's mum was heading home, so it was time for everyone to call it a day really! Thankfully somewhere in the middle of sorting the computer out, keeping a watchful eye on Rachael and her little friend Kerry as they had a water-fight in the front garden, and having tea, I managed a surprisingly decent phone chat with Katy before it was too late for my little girl! It's important to get priorities right, isn't it?! At least one of my regular readers will surely agree...

Well I never! According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "G.I." - as in an American soldier - was derived from "galvanised iron", and just happened nicely also to correspond to "government issue". I'm sure you all knew that already, but well there you go, I certainly didn't. Useless fact of the day, anyway.

Tesco was pretty hellish this morning. I still have no idea what their opening hours are this weekend - they normally have a notice, but not this bank holiday weekend - though it seemed like everyone was cramming their shopping into this morning anyway, just in case. Thankfully they seemed to have got most of the checkouts open, which was somewhat unusual, though mine seemed to be a bit of a disaster area with the customers in front both experiencing and causing loads of problems, and then the envelope for a card I'd chosen slipping down under the conveyor belt and them not being able to find a replacement. We got there in the end, though, and now I'm just relaxing for a short while before I have some lunch and blitz this flat in advance of Katy's planned visit tomorrow.

Lunch enjoyed, washing-up mountain and general tidying-up tackled, and now just waiting for a second washing load to finish so I can hang it up on the line and then crash for the rest of the afternoon in front of some DVD or other. Not sure this is quite the traditional activity for Good Friday, but "needs must", as they say - and at least the place is faintly presentable for Katy now!

Right, my day is done, and I'd better be getting to bed so I can be fully alert at whatever time Katy arrives here tomorrow morning! I have every confidence that this will end up at least the second decent Easter on the trot; yes, last year's was memorable in good ways too, but hopefully this one can surpass it!

And now, on Saturday evening, I am alone again, with Katy hopefully well on her way home by now! It's been a lovely day though, even if the weather wasn't too kind to say the least, in stark contrast to the glorious sunshine of the last week or so. As a result, our Easter outreach up at the shopping centre wasn't quite the event we had hoped it might be, but in the couple of hours that Katy and I were up there we still gave out dozens of balloons and chocolate eggs, so it was by no means a disaster. There wasn't a lot of the planned face-painting going on though, with it really being far too cold to stand or sit around any more than strictly necessary! Aimée modelled a beautiful butterfly, but that was it, at least during the time we were there before heading off for lunch.

So off to lunch we went, deciding to give the Kam Tong Garden at Great Holm a try, somewhere I'd not been for a fair few years, and even then only for their excellent Sunday lunchtime buffet. It was a bit expensive, but the helpings were generous and the quality of food and service were top notch, so we had no complaints at all at the end of the day. Positioned right by Lodge Lake, the restaurant was perfectly placed for us to go and work off a few of those pesky calories with a brisk stroll, though with the sun only just poking through the clouds once or twice, we had to wrap up warm and Katy was glad for the spare coat from the back of my car! By the time we got back to the car park, the Easter outreach would have just about finished, so we headed back here instead.

Back here, as well as just relaxing for a while, we watched Galaxy Quest - one of my all-time favourite films and one that Katy certainly found she enjoyed too - and tried to hatch a plan for the bank-holiday Monday. We've still not come to any definite decision, and Katy really needs to speak with her sister to iron out some of the finer details, but having perused the various train options, it's looking most practical for me to drive down to Balham. Pretty much whatever I do is going to be long and complicated, though hopefully with the help of the AA website's route-planner the drive mightn't be too daunting in practice. Multimap daftly tried to send me right through central London, which really would have persuaded me to look again at the trains, methinks...

It's definitely nice being at a point in the weekend when under any other circumstances I would have been lamenting my return to work tomorrow, but instead am only half way through, with just as much good stuff to come!

Today, Easter Sunday, has been hard work, but quite fulfilling nonetheless. I was sceptical as to whether there would be Café Church this morning, but I was assured there would be, and my scepticism was ultimately proven wrong. I had thought it likely the café in question would have been closed, but it wasn't - though numbers were a bit low anyway due to many people being away. It was a good time in any case, and a nice chance for me to catch up with both Simon and Matt to at least some small degree. I brought Sarah and the girls back here for lunch; I hadn't particularly planned it, but Laura and Rachael both asked me, and I had nothing else lined up so it was fine and Sarah appreciated being able to put her feet up for two or three hours while I cooked lunch and the girls watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, continued after pudding!

Rachael wasn't entirely on her best behaviour while here, but I offered to take her to the nearby park after I'd dropped Sarah and Laura home anyway, if only to give Sarah half an hour's peace. However, that didn't go entirely to plan for reasons I shall not go into and that were no-one's fault but for perhaps mine and Sarah's for not being too mindful of little girls' occasional needs, but we were still able to give Sarah over an hour's break - and it gave me a good chance to natter with Katy while Rachael played, though Rachael insisted on chatting for a few minutes too! I was expecting to find Sarah asleep upon our return; instead she had been moving furniture around, but insisted that she wouldn't have been able to with Rachael under her feet, so it was still very much worth the effort. Rachael had a good time too, and behaved impeccably.

I was persuaded to stay for tea - yummy lasagne - but that was quite late in the end, so I didn't last much longer after that, especially as I needed to get home to give Katy another call to finalise details for tomorrow. Rachael took a bit of trouble to get to bed, experiencing my raised voice, which I'm happy to say doesn't often get exercised, and consequently certainly elicited the desired response. I think I was resented for all of about five minutes before my presence was requested to tuck her in, though I declined the request to make up a bedtime story for her, that not being a skill I've acquired yet! Anyway, I eventually got away a little after ten, in time to agree what's happening tomorrow morning by way of meeting with Katy before descending upon Katy's sister Rachel, plus Mark and Daniel! More on that tomorrow, perhaps, OK..?

And now, not too late on Monday evening - though my body clock is telling me it's very late on a Sunday evening! - I'm back home and just enjoying a glass or two of the finest Banrock Station red before I call it a day.

Today's been low key but worked out really very well I'd say. As planned, I met up with Katy at the Sainsburys at Cobham just off the M25, and having had a pot of tea at the café there we parked my car for the day in a housing estate Katy knew to be safe, and Katy did the rest of the driving to Balham. I had at one point considered driving all the way there myself, but Katy's sister Rachel and brother-in-law Mark had strongly advised against it, and I have to say that in practice I was mightily glad not to be driving those last few busy miles into London! Once the West Coast mainline rail maintenance has been completed - assuming it ever is - it will be quite practical to go by train, with both Clapham South and Balham tube stations being within easy walking distance.

There had been an accident on the M25 that had slowed traffic to a crawl so we were altogether a little late arriving, and were pretty peckish by then. So we - that's Katy, Rachel, Katy's nephew Daniel and myself - headed straight out for lunch at the nearby Nando's in Balham. The service was frankly pretty atrocious, with our waitress completely lacking in charm and having even less command of the English language - and her colleagues seemed little better. The food arrived quickly though and was the veritable mountain of chicken, chips and salad I had anticipated from my experience at the Milton Keynes branch, but we had no drinks until half way through the meal, thanks to the machine being out of gas and the staff not being able to understand our protestations...

Back to the flat for a coffee, and for Daniel to have a nappy-change, then out again for a walk in the park at nearby Tooting. Daniel fell asleep quickly in his buggy, so missed exciting things like seeing the heron, but Katy, Rachel and I enjoyed a most pleasant stroll nonetheless, and the sun even poked its head through a few times! Rachel's husband Mark then joined us, having been working today, and we briefly adjourned to the playground, though Daniel really wasn't so keen on going on the swings or slides by then, so we headed home instead. Time flew, and after a bite of tea - most of us still being pretty stuffed after that lunch at Nando's - and doing a few jigsaws with Daniel, it was time to hit the road home, a pleasantly straightforward zoom, thankfully!

So it was hardly the most action-packed of days, but it worked out really well, and wasn't too overwhelming for anyone concerned! Daniel seemed to like me, and quickly identified me as "Katy's boy", and Rachel and Mark struck me as pretty down to earth people I'll be happy to get to know better. But despite not really having done a huge amount I am still utterly shattered, so am going to go and collapse into a bath - and thence into bed - forthwith! Goodnight!

So, back to work - but thankfully for a mere four-day week. I still need to finalise my semi-permanent transfer to a four-day week in general, but I think it would do me good and should get authorised OK. Annoyingly, I still cannot totally wrap up this last spreadsheet I am working on, because I was told only a half-truth at the end of last week about the rights clearance status on one of the third-party images contained. Karen has made it very clear that I had hoped to cut a CD-R of this last week, so hopefully we can get a resolution to this very soon, as things are otherwise basically ready to roll.

Shattered once again - and indeed once again at a rather early hour. But it's been a modestly productive evening in many ways, in terms of phone calls both made and received, and emails digested and replied to. So, to bed I toddle!

Right, I give up. Right here. Right now.

To wait two days for the go-ahead to complete something that I had fully intended to get out last week had other people's fingers been pulled out, and then minutes after that go-ahead finally arrives our file-server keels over and dies so I can't do what's necessary anyway, is somewhat frustrating.

It's almost like someone upstairs is trying to tell me something.

And it sounds a bit like "go home" to me.

Oh, it's woken up now. Obviously responds well to desperate rants like that. Must try it more often. Except now the sheer vileness of Wise's InstallBuilder is becoming even more abundantly clear than it ever was before, as I merely try to warn the user of how much of their precious disk-space is going to be turned brown and smelly if they dare to press that "Next" button one too many times. Well in fairness, it's not just Wise's fault, but the course team's too for having forced such a ridiculously complicated scheme upon us - which of course in turn means their paying students are suffering for their incompetence too.

And now duly broken again, as I readied myself to cut a CD of this junk for QA. Can someone please go to the pet-shop and buy some more sunflower seeds for the underfed hamsters that clearly power the departmental file servers round here?

Thankfully the network worked - i.e. wasn't a notwork - for long enough for me to cut the requisite number of CD-Rs, though Ahead's Nero generally tried to be as obstructive as it possibly could be. Clearly simply not my day as far as software that everyone else rants and raves about was concerned. Then it was my turn to mess up when packaging up the CD-Rs for their various recipients, accidentally forgetting to put the release notes in one envelope, and only finding out when I had a spare copy left over... Somehow a random printed-off email had substituted itself; just as well I spotted, but it was annoying having to go through all the carefully sealed envelopes finding the odd one out. Anyway, if QA don't have any objections, that could well be the end of my involvement with that particular course for another few months at least, and now I'm back home and pondering whether or not to go to Open House tonight.

Well I did go. And now I'm back home, listening again to Plumb's new Beautiful Lumps of Coal which arrived in the post today from America. It's growing on me, though I have to say it's musically not her best album yet by some way...

The network's a notwork again, I'm sorry to say. The email server, our file server and web access are all essentially down, or running at an intermittent crawl at best. It'll be a miracle if this diary entry even makes it to the outside world... In any real company, heads would be rolling by now after two days of this nonsense. And to further add to my joys I've just read some of the most impressive buck-passing I've ever seen round here, with regard to the course I handed over software for yesterday. It blamed "the vagaries of the complex OU production system" for the delays, made no mention at all of the incompetence of the academics, and was all wrapped up in wishful positive spin that even the infamous Mr al-Sahhaf would have stopped short of.

Anyway, it's six hours later, and pretty much time to go home - and be thankful that this week is now three-quarters done with. Today I've been able to work patchily when the network has had occasional spurts of life, but this can't go down as a productive day by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I've had a couple of good informal meetings to show for having bothered coming in at all. However both centred around the fact that the CD I handed over yesterday will definitely need some tweaks, but hopefully all very minor - at least so long as impossible-to-please Bob keeps his mouth shut anyway. I can dream, can't I?

As Fridays go, this hasn't been too bad a one. As expected, the CD bounced back at me, but I was actually hoping it would, because I had made a slight error which I couldn't be sure that QA would catch... All the problems found were pretty minor as I had hoped, though Sam may not quite be finished with it yet. But anyway, the week's over and the weekend's here, and I really haven't much of a clue how I'm going to spend it - and I rather like it that way...

Yuk, it's chucking it down with rain and I need to go to Tesco or I'm going to go hungry. Still, I've just had a most pleasant hour-long chat on the phone with Katy, so it's not all bad by any means! Anyway, shopping I shall go...

Coo, I feel so healthy and virtuous. Not one, but two bags of Braeburn apples in my shopping haul tonight, since I seem to be eating at least one apple every day now as part of my intention to aim for the officially recommended fruit and veg intake! Not quite so convinced the rest of the stuff I bought is so good for me, but hey... One step at a time, eh? Anyway, I now have a vague plan for tomorrow, having finally arranged to take Laura to the Milton Keynes Museum in the afternoon, a trip she's been waiting a long time to make so I hope she can make the most of it now! And the morning? A lie-in and a long bath, methinks!

So much for my lie-in; I'm not exactly raring to go, but I can't sleep any more either... Still, at least that means I can have a longer bath instead!

Even the bath didn't last as long as I was maybe intending, but I've spent the morning making up a couple more tapes for the car, since I seem to find myself playing the same old things over and over again through lack of choice. But it's very nearly time for me to get ready to go out for the afternoon, so I suppose I'd better not be getting too carried away with my diary right now!

Now safely back home, after not too late an evening round at Sarah's after my afternoon with Laura, everyone being really quite tired. It all went really well this afternoon, I'm pleased to say; I wasn't at all sure about it, based on past experience, but Laura was fine in the end and keen to make the most of the time she had. Consequently not only did we have a good look round the museum as planned, but also went to visit the concrete cows - much to Sarah's disdain - and the Iron Trunk aqueduct at Wolverton. There was even a modest amount of walking involved, but Laura was thoroughly happy throughout and no problem in the least. Obviously it didn't last more than a few minutes once we were back home, proof if it were needed of why it's so valuable for Sarah to totally separate the two girls for at least a little while whenever possible. World War III almost broke out in the evening, but thankfully Margaret - who had kindly provided tea earlier - was able to intervene in and calm down that particular situation. But both girls were off to bed - albeit with videos to watch - by about eight, Margaret and I headed off to our respective homes very soon after that, and Sarah was pretty much fit to crash at that point too.

So I am quite shattered, and don't intend to do anything much more this evening other than perhaps put my feet up in front of a DVD and head bedwards myself. Thankfully I'm neither setting up nor playing in the band at church tomorrow morning - though I have agreed to collect Sarah and the girls if they're going - so I should be able to have another reasonably relaxed start to the day!

"If" being the operative word in that case. Well, in the end it was just Laura and Rachael I had to transport, with Sarah really not fit to do anything much apart from return to bed as soon as I'd taken the girls off her hands this morning. They were both keen to go to church, and thankfully behaved fine - a few dire threats from Sarah no doubt going a long way - and earned themselves a much-appreciated McDonalds lunch afterwards as I had promised if they did so.

Needless to say the idyllic calm was shattered soon after I dropped them home, with a dispute over who was to use the computer and for how long, but I managed to diffuse that by taking Rachael up to the park for a little while. Observing a tearful grumpy frown transform into sparkling eyes and a broad grin in the space of seconds is always rather nice, I have to say... However I was not planning on staying long once I'd delivered her back and instead took a stroll on my own to and around Willen Lake, spending a full hour and twenty minutes on the phone to Katy while I did so, before adjourning to Martin's for the evening.

Martin had left a message last night asking if I could come for lunch today and to sort out his new email, which he agreed to put off until this evening since I'd been expecting to be busy with at least some combination of Sarah, Laura and Rachael. So once back from my walk I drove on round to Martin's, where I fairly quickly sorted out the problems with this new email - thankfully basically the same set-up as I have - and generally cleaned up his machine of assorted downloaded nasties, made a much smoother process thanks to his recent installation of Pipex ADSL. Tea was - as expected - warmed up coq-au-vin from a dinner party Martin had thrown last night, but that went down quite happily, and we had a good old natter before I hit the road home at about nine o'clock.

So now I'm just winding down before I hit the sack in the vain hope of feeling refreshed for another week at work. I didn't sleep at all well last night - waking up almost half-hourly - so I'm really hoping for an improvement tonight!

It's pushing nine o'clock on a murky Monday morning after yet another somewhat disturbed night's sleep, and currently the last things I feel motivated to do are to get dressed, washed and breakfasted, and make the short walk into work. However, until America manages to export "duvet days" into the British culture, I'm afraid that "really couldn't be bothered today" will remain an unacceptable excuse for not making it into the office. So I guess I'd better be getting on, and just be grateful that we don't work specified hours in this job... Yet.

We've just had a decree from on high that timesheets shall be submitted within three working days of the end of each month. Since this month is almost done for, I guess I could usefully waste at least a little while this fine morning getting mine up to date. I am sure that the main result of forcing this upon people will be that less accurate information is collected and collated, but it will probably err on the side of charging the academic units more, and that's not likely to be viewed as a major problem up in LTS senior-management-land.

Right, I have just handed over what really must be the final final version of the CD-ROM I've been sweating blood over for the last few weeks. Apparently it was due to be with AV today, so I am under instructions that if the academics request any changes I should ignore them. I am certain that Bob in particular will be preparing a nightmare list of overly picky issues, but although we've not quite managed to hit the AV deadline with this disc, we've come a heck of a lot closer than he has with anything on this course to date. It's actually going to be quite odd waving goodbye to this project for at least a few months - by which time who knows, I may well have plotted my escape in some form - but it's not going to be an unduly traumatic experience, I'd very much doubt! The only real worry is what kind of thing will expand to fill its place; I'd like it to be the microprocessor simulation for at least the time being, but there's plenty of other equally tedious stuff waiting in the wings thanks to the sheer lack of imagination on the part of the technology faculty course teams here. Quite why anyone would want to sign up for anything much on offer is beyond me, but I guess some people are masochistic enough to enjoy being bored to tears.

Well any hope that was the "final final" CD version yesterday was dashed today, with some more comments coming back from Sam in QA that I really couldn't avoid acting upon. My office-mates Tim and Sam were less convinced, but I tended to agree that the changes requested were worth making. It turned out they were much more complicated than expected, so I hope I've not broken anything else in implementing them, but that's a risk that has to be run. Of course, if the academics concerned had actually consulted me before simply bunging files up on their website without any sane installer, things would have been ten times simpler, but hey, they're paying us - as a department, that is, not personally - by the hour for this junk so I suppose I shouldn't really complain too much.

Anyway, that and making a last ditch effort to get some other spreadsheets I've probably mentioned here before working in Excel 2000 and XP were the undoubted highlights of an otherwise pretty mundane day. "Otherwise mundane", did I say? No, it was of course completely mundane, but it's seven o'clock now so I'm going to phone Katy and hopefully salvage today as not a complete write-off...

Bah, Katy's out - no doubt visiting her friends Sarah and Nick, and their newborn little one. Katy mentioned it when we chatted last night, so I had to give her strict instructions not to get too broody quite yet...

Yes, I was right, and she's home again, so better get off-line now, hadn't I?!

Yesterday's "final final final" CD-R bounced back today, with a problem I'm a little miffed wasn't spotted any earlier, but that was easy enough to fix, so I was able to cut and hand over a "final final final final" version a little while ago. I believe that one will be checked by Sam only to confirm that the changes I have made behave as claimed and haven't broken anything obvious, so I would be immensely surprised if this isn't now the end of that sorry saga - at least as far as producing CD-ROMs for the course involved is concerned, anyway.

I daresay I can expect at least a few queries to come back from students having problems with the convoluted installation system I've had to employ, but they can be explained entirely by the fact that the technology academics involved simply couldn't organise the proverbial at a brewery in terms of handing stuff over at reasonable times. It doesn't matter how many "vagaries" there are in our production system here, we're not in the business of making something out of nothing; technologists should know better than to break the laws of physics.

Today's otherwise being OK, although I'm a bit disappointed the thunderstorm earlier this afternoon didn't come to anything. A few rumbles of thunder and some torrential rain for a quarter of an hour, but that was it. I was quite happy for nature to throw anything at us that it liked for a couple of hours, so long as we didn't lose power - we had a bit of a brown-out, but nothing to worry about - but sunshine seems to be order of the day once again. Just so long as it's dry when it's time to go home, 'cos I could do without a soaking!

As for this evening, well I've had to apologise in advance to Katy that it's somewhat unlikely I'll get much if any chance to give her a call, since I've got quite a busy schedule coming up. First of all, round to Sarah's for tea, as we had arranged on Sunday and confirmed a few minutes ago, then on to Di's for Open House and also to see if I can diagnose what's up with her computer, Simon having kindly volunteered me as Mr PC Fixer. So goodness knows what time I'll end up home tonight, but I'm certainly not hopeful of an early night...

In the end I got home a bit after eleven, after a reasonably successful evening out, I happily have to say. Tea at Sarah's was fairly straightforward, and not too fraught - though still with a few moments best forgotten - and Open House at Di's was good, focussing on prayer for each other and particularly for Di in her current situation. Most people got away in good time, but it was then time for me to have a look at Di's computer, which had been thoroughly crippled by a combination of KaZaA and miscellaneous other bits of spyware. As I had rather expected, by the time I had diagnosed what was the matter, it didn't take much longer to remedy it, so hopefully the computer is a lot happier now! There's still a few things that need doing in order to protect against future incidents of the same nature, but they can wait for another day when I'm more awake...

For now though, after a glass or two of wine to wind down with, it's bedtime.

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