October 06, 2007

I'm absolutely shattered…

Since Thursday, I've had Neill, a friend from college, staying with me, which has been really good.  Thursday night, soon after he arrived, we went to Kym Moy on Mill Road for a brief bite to eat, and then met one of his University friends, Daisy, for a drink.  We got back about 11.30pm and I got to sleep soon after midnight. 

Last night, we went to Daisy's for a few drinks and a couple of rounds of a variant of Mille Bornes (both of which I won :), then later moved on to the student bar at Churchill College where we played a couple of games of pool and a game of table football.  We did the traditional late-night kebab van run at Market Square, and got back to Daisy's house at about 2.30am.  I crashed on her couch, and after a a few fitful bouts of sleep, left at 8.30am to get the bus home.

So given that my sleeping patterns are still a bit disrupted (I'm waking up at 6am every day now, and not really falling back to sleep properly, just dozing lightly), these two late nights are now taking their toll on me.  I'm shattered: my legs are aching, my feet are caning, I have a tiredness headache (that kind of dull, thick, ache at the back of your head), and I'm wondering how I'm still awake.  

My Mum told me the other day that I was born middle-aged, albeit in a very different context, and I'm starting to think she's right :)  I had a lovely bath earlier, with some jazz (Diana Krall, mainly; she's got a lovely smooth, rich voice) on in the background, and found myself thinking that the only way it could be improved would be with the addition of a nice glass of red and a good "cultural" book!  Also, however much I enjoyed last night (which was a lot, don't get me wrong; it was my first good night out in quite a long time...), I'm starting to wonder if I'm maybe getting a bit old for these late nights.  I certainly didn't find myself missing the kebab van, and the best bit of the night for me was when we were sat in Daisy's lounge drinking, chatting, and playing cards.  

I also found out last night that my bladder is made from steel. 

September 30, 2007

A good night out

Just got back from the pub quiz at the Monkfield Arms in Cambourne with a few colleagues from work.  We had a good night - we came joint second in the first round (earning us £8 of drinks vouchers for next time) and first in the second round (earning us the pot to split between us)!

With a stonking 16/20 correct answers in the second round, we wiped the floor with everyone else, and netted a tenner each.  Subtracting the £1.20 I paid to enter the quiz, I made a cool £8.80 tonight :)

Additionally, after two pints of well-tended Pedigree (the Monkfield Arms is a Marston's pub, after all) on nothing more than a not-quite-ripe apple, I'm a little tipsy :)  I can't remember the last time I felt this good!

Slightly negatively, though, realising how much tonight has taken my mind off things, and how quickly tonight has flown by, makes me remember what it is that my mind has been diverted from.  That's putting a small dampener on things, but I'm on a bit of an alcohol-fuelled high at the moment, so I should be ok until tomorrow morning at the earliest.  

The weekend's been a tough one, and it always seems that just when I'm done crying there's a fresh burst of grief waiting for me around the corner.  The suddenness of everything hit me hard this weekend, and I had another long cry this afternoon.  I also said something particularly nasty to my Mum that I completely regret, and that I wish I could take back, and I can't believe she's being so understanding about the whole thing.   I'm really starting to understand how lucky I am to have parents as loving and supportive of me as they are, and I couldn't be getting through this without them.  

I also need to thank my friends, five in particular and I hope you know who you are, for all the support they have given me; a couple of them have been so amazingly supportive and caring at a time when I was feeling so lost and alone, and I'm so utterly grateful to you all for everything.  If you're noticing that I haven't been in touch recently and are missing me, I apologise greatly; there are a few things I need to sort out myself, and they are requiring me to put a little bit of distance between me and you, but I promise this is only temporary.  

Additionally, I'm constantly battling with myself to keep the emotional distance between myself and Zoë.  I know I need to keep this distance for the foreseeable future, but there's so much exciting stuff to share with her, and so much that I want to say, that's it's proving very difficult to keep a lid on it.  I'm sharing it with other people, but not having her in my life at all is proving very difficult.  I know what I want to say won't change anything in terms of the situations that we are now in, but I do hope that it will smooth over some of the crevasses that have appeared in the last few weeks.  I'm just not ready to tackle that, though, and I don't yet know when I will be; to get back in touch now, however much I want to, would only open myself up to a new world of pain and I can't do that until the pain will be numbed by time and distance and all those other things that people keep telling me about.  

The whole thing is made harder by the fact that the person that I love is gone, maybe permanently, maybe temporarily.  Zoë is no longer the person that I fell in love with; she has changed so much in the last two months, more than I thought possible, and it is painfully apparent to me that the person that she is now doesn't want me, and, to some extent, the "old" Zoë doesn't want me anymore either.  The photos of her that I see of Zoë shows her looking the same on the outside — obviously — and I remember the Zoë that I love and all the happy memories, pain and grief that goes with the fact that I'm no longer with her, and no longer able to be with her.  What I struggle with is keeping sight of the fact that I don't love the new Zoë, and this is because there's too much that reminds me of the old Zoë.  I'm struggling to live and cope with the fact that she's so different now, and every so often, like this afternoon, it hits me in a new wave of grief and pain and I burst into tears afresh.

All in all, though, I am right now feeling the best I have done in weeks, and I can only hope this will spill over into the new week.   The likelihood of me waking up feeling shit again tomorrow is greatly reduced, I hope, and I've got some good ideas to mention to my manager at our one-on-one tomorrow :)

There will be some form of further update at some point in the future.  With my life in flux quite so much at the moment, it won't be as soon as I might like, but I promise you, dear reader, that there will be a new post.  

September 29, 2007

Time heals all

Greenday - Time of Your Life

Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road.

Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go.

So make the best of this test
and don't ask why.

It's not a question
but a lesson learned in time.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs
and still frames in your mind.

Hang it on a shelf
In good health and good time.

Tattoos of memories
and dead skin on trial.

For what it's worth,
it was worth all the while.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life. 

September 18, 2007

The mornings are the worst.

Waking up way before my alarm, realising it's not all a bad dream, feeling sick at the thought, trying to fall asleep again.  Waking up again.  And again.  And finally crawling out of bed too early and into the shower. 

As the day goes on, I find that my mind eventually gets engrossed in the tasks of work, and I start to feel better.  These last couple of days, I've also had things to engross my evenings too, and so the days are easier.  The first weekend that I spend truly alone (25-26 September) is going to be hard, but I don't know if it will be harder or easier than the last weekend I spent sort of alone.  I also don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, which could make it harder still.

Last night I depped for the Cambridge Philharmonic, an orchestra I'm hoping to join following my audition next week.  It was a good rehearsal; the orchestra are of a high standard although none of them are professional, and the focus is more on musical detail than was the case with the UWSO (no disrespect meant to the UWSO there - they're a fantastic orchestra!).  The social side seems to be lacking from what I can tell, with the mid-rehearsal coffee break being the extent of this as far as I can see so far, but given that I was only depping, and for a rehearsal at that, it's unlikely that I would have got much more of an impression of this.  

I also went for a run this evening.  I managed 30 minutes of almost continuous exercise (I needed a break after about 15 mins as my asthma was starting to kick in), and it felt good, in a really knackering way.  I might even do it again...  And afterwards I spent an hour or so at the pub with a colleague, which was nice, and of course good to get out of the flat. 

And for the first time in quite a few days, I might actually fall asleep with relative ease.   

September 11, 2007

Ups and Downs

Again, it's a few days since I last blogged.  I'm not doing so well at what was intended to be a better attempt at regular blogging, but there we go. 

Today's been a beautiful day in Cambourne.  It's been still and sunny and warm all day, and this is what I love about September.  What I don't love about September is that the nights start drawing in (it's now dark before 8.30pm) that remind me that autumn and thus winter are not too far away now.  It will be interesting to see Cambourne in winter; I've only ever seen it in summer so far (with the exception of the day I spent here for my interview in December).  

And I love iTunes' not-new-at-all Party Shuffle feature.  For what is actually just glorified random-play functionality, it still gives off the impression that it's doing something funky in the background.  Only in my iTunes library will you get Party Shuffle that looks a bit like this:

A Quick Peep - Oasis
Lonely Stranger - Eric Clapton
Please Don't Die - Robbie Williams
Creep - Radiohead
Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart - Manic Street Preachers
Lesson Learned - Limp Bizkit
Façade - William Walton
49 Percent - Royksopp
Danse Des Petits Cygnes from The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky (John Lanchberry and the Philharmonia Orchestra recording)
Ticket to Ride - The Beatles
and so on...

And for those of you who have been following my Facebook status updates, you'll probably have picked up on the fact that something's been up the last few days.  Zoë and I have been going through a hard period for nearly a week now, centering on the stress of us both moving on from University.  This led to a particularly tough weekend this week, which seemed to be about fifty times longer for not seeing her.  Things are looking somewhat promising, in that we have found one of the roots of the problems, and I'm hoping that we will be able to work through the problems.  We are seeing each other again this weekend, and there will be much talking going on about this.  

Work has been an up, though.  I finally started some real work today, playing with a beta of Server 2008, code-named Longhorn, which is essentially Vista Server.  And it's actually alright.  Some of the annoyances of Vista are there - User Account Control, for example, and the fact that just looking at it makes you feel lost as you realise that everything has moved, again - but it's actually really well designed.  You don't get the classy Aero interface (duh, this is a server), but the other interface improvements are there, such as the new address bar in Explorer, and the revised Start Menu, and they work.  Well, for me, at least.   I'll still be waiting at least until Vista SP1 is out before inflicting it on my personal machine, though, however much I want the shiny new Media Centre functionality (because I can't seem to get anything else to work...). 

So, my life is full of ups and downs at the moment, as this post reflects, and it will be a while before things are fully resolved.  We shall see what this weekend brings, and beyond.  And at the very least, it will be so good to see Zoë again. 

September 06, 2007

Quick update

A quick update as I've dropped off the radar a bit recently...

I finally started work at Citrix on Monday — woo hoo!  I spent the day setting up my two PCs; I have two because we get one as a "corporate workstation" (emails, Internet, etc.), and one for development. The first is a bit above "standard configuration" — dual core, 2GB of memory (IIRC), WinXP (although Vista was offered, I politely declined; I'm not going anywhere near it until Vista 2.0 — also known as SP1 — is out) — the second is for development and is a beast with a total of 4GB, count them: 1 2 3 4GB of memory, also dual core, running Windows Server 2003.  Unfortunately, it's running the 32-bit distribution due to support for 64-bit distributions being non-existent, so technical problems with memory addressing could potentially be encountered.  I hope not. 

There's still a fair amount of work to be done on the development machine, as the original one had some issues with installing Server 2003 — the machine would hang when the installer started searching for previous versions of Windows, so it's likely that it was an issue with the hard disk or the hard disk controller.  Luckily, Citrix is the sort of company where if there is this sort of issue impacting your work, they'll happily run a replacement machine up to you.  

Monday afternoon was met with a call from HR at Chalfont Park (near Gerrards Cross, west of London), stating that I was required to attend a two-day induction there on Tuesday and Wednesday.  So I hastily arranged a lift with some other new starters, cancelled my attendance at the Cambridge Phil's rehearsal, and headed down to Gerrards Cross.  Today was the Citrix Summer Party, also held at Chalfont, so for my first week at work, I've done very little work!  I will resume my tasks tomorrow before settling in for the weekend. 

The weekend will be interesting; I've unfortunately had to cancel my trip to Leamington this weekend, but I think I will try to spend it doing more unpacking, and I might try and get into Cambridge if the weather is nice and just spend some time wandering around.  The last few have been too task-oriented to properly enjoy — particularly the trips into Cambridge — and I hope to be able to relax a bit more this weekend.  

Plus of the day: TV's now available on iTunes, and Apple are releasing an iPod version of the iPhone (i.e., an iPhone without the phone, or an iPod with a touch screen and Mac OS X).  These both rock.  Minus of the day: TV episodes are £1.89/episode, ~£20/season.  Rubbish.  

September 02, 2007

Short weekends

It rather seems that the weekends are getting shorter.  Maybe it's excitement about starting work tomorrow that has shortened this weeked, maybe it's the fact that the nights are drawing in and it's now dark at 8.30pm (in Cambridge at least), or maybe it's the fact that yesterday was spent clearing my flat and dashing round town looking for a door stop before popping to the cinema to see The Simpsons Movie.  Whichever it is, this weekend has gone very quickly indeed. 

I was supposed to spend it getting my flat tidier so that it's a bit more bearable when I come home from work.  I was supposed to be preparing myself for starting work.

I don't feel in the least bit prepared.   I'm a bit nervous, but not scared.  I feel like I should have done more, but I don't know what more I can do (I've printed off and filled in a P46; my contract, etc., was signed and sent back in January).  I'm tired, but I'm not sleepy.  I can't wait to start, but I don't feel ready.  Would I ever feel ready?

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, as the cliché goes.  And yet, it doesn't seem real somehow.  I could almost forget to go into work tomorrow, as it feels like it is the same as every other day I've spent here in my flat.  But I know I won't, because when I wake up, I'll be feeling better about it.

I guess it's nerves, and that sleeping on it will help.  Only a few hours until I do that.  In the meantime, I'll kill time with more clearing, a bit of bassoon practice, some more 24, Day 1, and maybe a spot of cleaning too...  Who knows?

August 30, 2007

Bandwidth trading via BitTorrent

Writing about web page http://technology.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn12565&feedId=online-news_rss20

As part of my subscription to New Scientist, I get a free online subscription too, which I choose to manage via their RSS feeds and Google Reader.  One of the articles I saw today was an interesting modification to the BitTorrent protocol that has come out of Harvard, and is encapsulated in the Tribler program. 

The modification itself is quite interesting; taking the BitTorrent etiquette of giving back to the swarm what you download (i.e., maintaining a share ratio of 1.0), and the practice of blocking leechers (who have a share ratio far below 1.0) carried out by some private torrents, the Tribler guys have created a bandwidth credit system.  You actually trade bandwidth: uploading "earns" your bandwidth, and downloading is classed as "spending" your bandwidth.  Thus, if you don't upload, you can't download.  The creators hope that content can be distributed as fairly and efficiently as possible (cf. the ISPs' current issues with high-bandwidth applications such as video). 

Not only this, but looking briefly into the client program's features, it has collided head-on with the socially-networked world of "Web 2.0".  A recommendation system based on a "collaborative filtering algorithm" highlights torrents that you are likely to enjoy.  It also provides you with a one-stop shop for everything required to use your torrents - no more hunting the 'net for the right codec, Tribler has got it covered.  

Sounds good, but I'm not sure I'm ready to switch from Azureus yet.   Not on my PC, at least, which has enough power to cope with Azureus' memory-hogging antics, but Tribler might be worth investigating on my now-rather-underpowered G4 iBook...

One step forward, two steps back…

I'm back in Cambourne now.  The run back from Southampton was pretty good, all things considered (including the remains of an accident and spillage between the M3 and Staines on the M25...), and it's quite nice being back in my flat. 

Except my flat is a tip.  I somehow managed to get a whole car load of stuff out of Southampton having expected to be collecting basically my clothes, CDs and books, and now I've got boxes strewn around the flat again.  The lounge is a mess, with boxes full of collapsed boxes (left over from before I left because they're so big), boxes full of my stuff, and empty boxes strewn around the floor.  I bought a rug to go under my coffee table which I can't currently even unpack because of the mess.  The anal, organised part of my brain is very very unhappy.  

But there's some respite for that corner of my mind; I've completely unpacked my CDs into my new CD rack.   The "popular" music is sorted alphabetically.  Classical music is divided into ballet musical, chamber music, choral music, compilations, concerti, general orchestral music, solo music and symphonies, and each section is ordered by composer.  Then Jazz is stuck on the end; I don't have enough Jazz yet :(  The CD rack is full to overflowing, and, as with the matching DVD rack, some of my boxsets don't fit.  I hope to do my books tomorrow, and I may need to make another trip to Argos to buy another bookshelf...

All fun and games at the moment, as you can tell.  In other, more exciting news, however, I've settled on a TV and DVD/HDD recorder; I'm just waiting for DFS to contact me regarding my free credit for my sofa, and then I can get on with buying those!  The snappily-titled Panasonic TX32LXD700 and Panasonic DMREX77EBK will be mine, and then I can watch and record TV, and play Gamecube and Wii, to my heart's content.  I can't wait! :)

August 28, 2007

Sofa, So Good

I've been in Southampton since last Monday to clear out my room here, and things are going quite well.  I finally purchased a rather nice sofa from DFS (the Vetta sofa, three seater, no reclining action) in a warmer shade of beige than pictured, and provided the credit check goes through ok (always a worry for new graduates...) I should get it interest free for three years, too, with nothing to pay until this time next year.  Bargain.  

In the meantime, I've been looking at rugs (to go under my coffee table), bean bags (to sit on for the next two to three months whilst I wait for my sofa to be delivered) and cushions (to go on my sofa and match my rug).  I've done quite well, and I am still haemorrhaging money.  Oh well, the sofa's on credit.  I hope

Clearing out my room has been a good experience; I have a lot of junk that is just going, thank god, but there's still some stuff that's coming with me to Cambridge - CDs, books, Mum's old food processor...

Which, of course, is the other benefit of having come home.  My parents seem to like spending money on me (they obviously haven't yet kicked the habit of "looking after me" whilst I was a student), which is nice and always appreciated, and so I've ended up with a set of rather nice chopping boards, a set of rather nice Kitchen Devils knives (complete with storage block), a knife sharpener and a potato peeler.  And my Mum's old food processor. 

I also went through my tax return with Dad, and I have implemented a new filing system.  The anal, organised part of my brain is happy.   

I'm off back to Cambridge on Thursday with all my stuff, so I'm sort of killing time now, binning junk, blogging and doing the times2 puzzles.  9 across, "Betrayal of one's country (7)": "traitor". Erm... no. That's someone who betrays their country; treachery is the act of betraying one's country. But that's 9 letters.  Flipping tabloid. I might actually be able to finish this one, if the rubbish clues don't hinder me too much. 

Catch you later, alligator.

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