Work Christmas Party.

Last night was the annual department Christmas party. This year it was held in University College (Oxford) student bar.

On the whole it was a fun event as quite enlightening as to who are really
friends and who just talk to me at teatime ‘cos there’s no-one better. This
information is good to know.

I was persuaded, yet again, to show off how bad I am at dancing.. and I’m really in the “shouldn’t ever try at all” category.

It was good to socialise with John, Katie and Sam again. Some of the first
year postgrads are good company too. As for the rest, I don’t really care
if they ignore me or not. It’s their loss if they don’t want me as a friend.

On the whole it was a decent party though.

Tonight I’m off to Reading to meet Matt (sleipnir_) and Nick so as to go
and see the second part of the Lord of the Rings film, The Two Towers. That
should be fun. Still, the film doesn’t finish ’til 12:30am so I won’t get
home ’til at least 1:30am and I have to get up and journey to Cornwall tomorrow
for Christmas.


fan on the CPU of my server at home gave up the ghost last night so I had
to shut it down. At least I don’t need it anymore to get a connection out
from my house. I s’pose I shouldn’t complain, it’s only a cheap Celeron heatsink
and fan combo and it has been running continuously for about 3 years. It’s
a pain though. I’ll not have time to go and find a replacement before Christmas.


seems I totally forgot about the visitation from the British Gas technician
yesterday morning and found a card pushed through my door on the mat when
I got in. This is the thrid time I’ve either forgotten about the Gasman or
postponed the visit. I wish they could visit on a non-work day and also schedule
the visit within a reasonable period after the notification or the phone
call.. I don’t call 4-6 weeks a reasonable period, it’s far too easy to forget
about in that time.

I didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night. I woke up and went to the
loo at about 1:30am and then found that I couldn’t get back to sleep. I had
strange thoguhts about model railways which wouldn’t go away. I finally got
back to sleep around 4:30.

Surprisingly, I’m reasonably ok today, mentally.

Home at last

Well, I’ve managed to do all my jobs this evening and get something to eat.

As it turns out, Paul and Jen, his american girlfriend who’s over for a few weeks, were in at the time, so I had a rather nice chat with them.

I managed to get to Toys’R’Us by 8pm. They were fine about changing the iRacer.. other than they didn’t have any more in stock.. so I got a refund instead. Oh well, that just means I have only 1 iRacer instead of two. Not a major problem.

Thankfully, the Heyford Hill Sainsbury’s is open ’til midnight on weekdays. (It’s been swapping between 24 hours opening and 8pm closing within the last few months.) Hence, I also managed to get my shopping done.

I’m now sitting on my sofa relaxing watching Norm Abrams on the New Yankee Workshop making a table as there seems to be very little on. Beforehand I watched the first episode of Cowboy Be-Bop on CNX.. It must be the thrid time around as I saw near the start of the series when CNX first came on and the same episode again about a month ago.

I think I’ll let my dinner go down a bit and then go to bed.

Eek, erg, ook.

I thought I’d start off with an intelligent title for ths posting.. and as you can see I failed.

Anyway, on with the show. Firstly, events…

Nothing really happened last week, so I’ll skip that.

Friday evening saw me driving off to Yateley to visit Rachel, Graham and
little Chris bearing gifts of iRacers for one and all. I arrived just as
Chris was going to bed, so gave him a goodnight hug. The evening progressed
in a civilised manner finished off with a nice kitchen table chat, similar
to those I used to enjoy during student days.. It was something I really

Saturday meant sharing Rachel and Graham’s busy life with lots of tooings
and frowing in the morning followed by much visitations by various people,
including Bob & Jos (m00nunit), a baby, and the baby’s mother, but not
always at the same time. A quick visit to Fiona’s new house in the event
happened as well. To be sure, Rachel is the social self-help nexus of the
whole area… and she wishes that she wasn’t anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, the iRacers went down very well with Bob, Jos, Graham, Rachel, the baby’s
mother, oh and Chris too. T’was a pitty that the one I gave to Rachel had
a dodgy controller and a car which wouldn’t turn left (More of that later).
So I gave Rachel my iRacer as a replacement.

Sunday started quietly for me, as the Hartland family went to church, returning
at about 11am. Lunch ensued as did more visitations by people. I finally
left at about 8pm.

I must thank Rachel and Graham for a fun and busy weekend.

Anyway, that pretty well brings us to today. Which is a work day.. a pretty
much normal one at that. However, this evening is going to be pretty busy.
I’ve got to do my weekly shopping as I didn’t get to do it at the weekend,
take the iRacer back to Yous’R’Us and see if I can get it replaced and also
take a Christmas card to a friend who’s address I don’t know but I do know
where they live. Oh, and I’ve got to feed myself at some point as well.

Secondly, other matters…

For the last week or so I’ve been going through one of my phases of being
really tense and not being able to rest. I have no idea why I have these
phases and they’re dead annoying. I feel really on edge, waking with a start
in the night with the slightest sound and just feeling really wound up. Maybe
I just need a holiday. It’s quite handy that I have one at the end of the
week, really.

The weekend.

I’ve not done a great deal over the weekend other than fail to buy anything
during some Christmas shopping, fail to do this year’s Christmas cards and
fail to get any MTA (Mail Transport Agent) working on my main server.

On Saturday I went looking in Toys’R’Us for a little pressie for Christopher,
the son of my friends Rachel & Graham as I’m going to visit them next
weekend. I debated getting him a little lego motor so he can power some of
his creations. I also looked at the mini remote control cars, as my Mum wants
to know if there’s anything I’d like. (I’d prefer not to get something computery
as that’s transient, almost disposable technology these days and it costs
a bomb too.) I’m not sure about these little cars now as they’re actually
IR controlled and not radio controlled. Still, I’m still thinking about them..
even though they’re 30 quid each (and to have a race you need at least 2).

Saturday afternoon I tried out online gaming by downloading and installing
the “Coounter Strike” add-on for Half-Life. It took about 10 minutes or so
to download the list of games servers before I could even pick one. Then
once I’d joined a game, after about 10 minutes I found myself being abused
verbally with the message “u r lamer” and within a few seconds kicked off
the server. If this is what online gaming is about, it’s not worth the hassle.

Saturday evening was spent watching the two extra DVDs in the Fellowship
of the Ring extended edition. I started playing them at about 7pm.. even
after skipping a couple of the documentries I still didn’t manage to finish
’til 12:40am! That was a bit of a marathon.

Sunday was spent trying to get first exim to play and then sendmail to play
at being my mail server software on my server.. both didn’t work.. both didn’t
work in the same way.. Once they dropped priviledges they couldn’t get them
back so as to deliver the mail. This suggests something wrong with the setuid
part of the operating system?! Oh well.

So, as you can see, a facinating weekend.

The slippery slope.

more I read about the USA’s Department of Homeland Security the more I’m
reminded of the political backstory in the TV series Babylon 5 where President
Clarke sets up the “Home Guard” to protect Earth from alien consiracy and
attack. This, of course, leads onto a Stalinist type state.

I’m not saying that the Dept. of Homeland Security is the same as the “Home
Guard” in the TV series, it’s just a symptom of the sort of “evil” which
is a slippery slop which CAN, if not checked, lead to such a situation. Governmental
paranoia, or at least the generation of paranoia in the public by a government
intent on controlling its population is a well known tool. I can see that
President Bush Jr. and his cabinet seem to be setting themselves on a course
with this sort of destiny, the previous encarnation of which was the McCarthy
purges of the early 1950’s.

As for things on this side of the Atlantic, they’re not that much rosier,
with Tony Blair seeming to be either a lapdog of Pres. Bush Jr. or trying
to emulate him. That added to such draconian legislation as the RIP bill
and other such frighteningly sweeping attacks on our freedoms and things
look bleak.

Let’s hope that Messrs. Bush and Blair turn away from thier degenerative
paranoia and steer a more intelligent course. The problem I have is believing
that they’re not taking this spiral ride without full knowledge of the consiquences..
which would mean that they are morally totally corrupt.

Drab winter mornings.

The drab, cold, dark winter morning this morning has really got me a bit down int he dumps today. I have no enthusiasm for anything. I found it very hard to get out of bed or convince my body that it was anything other than nighttime.

My social life is pretty much in a waiting pattern again with the light at the end of the tunnel being a probable visit to Rachel, Graham & Chistopher next weekend, the dept. Christmas party in a little under two weeks and (hopefully) going to see The Two Towers in a fortnight, if I manage to book tickets for it today.

Life seems so grey when the weather’s grey.

Still, this weekend I can pre-occupy myself with getting my main computer set up as a mail hub. I understand now that I have to ask Nildram to check that my machine won’t be an open mail relay before they allow access. However, it does seem strange that they allow SMTP connections in, they just don’t allow the ACK packets out. I managed to inject some mail into my system from outside last night by guessing what the program wanted even if there was no reply, so their firewalling seems a bit flawed.

Good vibrations..

Or rather.. good, high frequency signals over copper telephone wires.

I got home at 8:05pm, plugged in the details set to me by Nildram for the ADSL, expecting nothing to happen as the line isn’t due to come online ’til Friday.. Hit the “Connect” button for the hell of it and was surprised to discover that it worked!

So now I’m ADSL’d!