Article History

June 2011




Mum and Dad are organising replacing the hot water heater. They'd been looking at new heaters for the last week, so they were a little prepared. An electrician was called out to make some changes. Dad woke me and told me the power would have to be cut off at some stage. He asked if the computers would cope fine or should they be shut down first? Of course they should be shut down! I thought he was talking about an unspecified near-future and that he would tell me when the computers would need to be shut down. But the next time I looked at my clock, the digits were flashing. Not happy!

Taliesin didn't come up because of some changes I'd made to the GPT partition on the hard drives. After many boot ups with the Debian installer on my USB memory stick, I eventually resorted to converting the first disk to the old PC BIOS partition format, which I originally thought had a problem with large disks. Turns out it has problems with 2 TB disks, so my 1 TB disks are okay.

The plan is to eventually install an SSD for storing the boot, root, and possibly swap. That should make things quite zippy. Then I'll just put the LVM physical volumes (PV‘s) straight on the whole disks, essentially using LVM as the partitioning format. Booting PC’s has always been a huge pain in the arse because of the more than a quarter of a century of backwards compatibility with the IBM PC. Perhaps I should look at putting CoreBoot on my systems.


The new hot water heater was installed, and I slept through most of it! We now have a solar booster on the garage roof.

Sarah's 6th birthday party

Sarah is turning 6 and her parents are having a birthday party on the 5th. Her birthday is actually a week later, but the 24 hours of Le Mans is on then and Andrew said he wouldn't be able to help that day, so what do you do? We'll go then too and leave Andrew out of any activities :).


Sarah's 6th birthday party! This was quite an experience for me since I haven't been around little kids (apart from my niece and nephew) much in the last few decades (geez that makes me sound like a sex offender). And as Mum pointed out — I come from a family of four boys. A fairy-themed birthday party with a handful of five year old girls was entirely new for Mum, Dad, Andrew, and myself. It all went quite well, although the lounge room floor did get a bit messy with some of the adhesive glitter and other stuff from one of the arts-n'-crafts presents Sarah received.

It wasn't all five year olds though. There was also Milly, the almost-three year old sister of Molly. She was like a little girly version of Zac — always running about, climbing and jumping off things, and talking nearly the whole time. Her mother stayed for the party because she didn't want to just dump two of her daughters on Alissa and Andrew. But along with Mum, Dad, and myself, as well as two friends of Andrew's and their wives, and Gary and Maxine, there were just as many adults as kids.

Installed FroyoMod 2.8 on my phone.


My cough isn't going away, so got an appointment to see a doctor about it. Neither of my preferred doctors were available and I had to make do with the one with the hyphenated name. From past experience he hears a few key symptoms, doesn't ask too many in-depth questions, and prints off a prescription for antibiotics before seeing you out the door. I was expecting my problem to be a throat or chest infection, so his S.O.P wouldn't be a major problem. And sure enough, he prescribed an antibiotic, but also ‘Nexium’, an anti-reflux drug. He said that some cases of persistent coughs are caused by reflux during the night burning the cough receptors at the back of the throat. When I told Mum about this, she said that Zac had recently been given something similar for a cough he had. Neither of us had heard of this before, so maybe it's a recently discovered problem that's been in the medical literature and doctors are keen to try it out.


Sarah's 6th birthday!

We were supposed to go around to Andrew and Alissa's for Sarah's actual birthday. But I'd gotten crook again over the week. Maybe I caught another strain of the Cold at the party from one of the kids? I stayed in bed because I was feeling terrible. And because I'd stayed up kinda late. But I still felt terrible when I got up, having been in bed for 12 hours. So Mum and Dad went without me. They met Alissa and the kids at the MacHattie park duck pond, where Zac got to chase lots of birds. Then they went to Annie's Icecream. Damn. I would liked to have gone.


My cough seems to have finally cleared up. I no longer have to cough every minute or two because of a niggling sensation that just wouldn't go away. My nose is still a little blocked up, but not too bad.

Installed CM7 RC10 on my phone, after skipping RC9 because I was using FroyoMod. There's a bunch of big fixes in this update (and RC9 too), notably a ‘dsi-fix’ module meant to properly handle whatever problem was causing the DSI (‘display’) hangups, making the previous ‘dsi mode’ fix unnecessary. This is good news because the DSI hangs (about 10 seconds?) would lead to a spontaneous reboot. And the ‘dsi mode’ fix reduced display performance and added vertical (long axis) tearing when scrolling. Part of this work is from the Droid kernel, but since the Milestone has a locked bootloader and kernel, extra work had to be done to ‘hook’ into the kernel at the right address.


Ugh, really tired. And depressed. I‘m turning my day around and I got up too early. Plus I think I must still have some cold or something draining me. My head feels like a rock and I’m just a little light-headed sometimes.

The temperature plunged shortly before I went to bed and there was snow at the higher-elevated areas. Alissa told me on Jabber that she saw snow in the rain, but I didn't see any here. Andrew came over after I had gone to bed and talked to Mum and Dad.

I took a valerian tablet to help me get to sleep and stay asleep longer. It didn't seem to help much. My mind was racing. I also had to get up a bunch of times to go to the toilet.


Tried to stay in bed as long as I could. Getting up in the small hours of the morning is probably also causing me some trouble with my body clock. I‘ve really got to stop this habit of moving my sleeping times around the clock. It can’t be good for me and makes any social interaction (including shopping, travelling, doctor visits, etc) difficult when I'm too far out of sync with everyone else.

Dad was home most of the day because the highway was (partially?) closed from the snow, and he didn't really need to go to Lithgow. I went along with him to do some shopping, including dropping in to Bunnings to get parts to make up an ‘AC splitter cable’ for use with his new clamp ammeter. I've been wanting to go for walks lately, but the weather has been too shitty, so this was the next best thing. It got me out of the house and walking a bit.

Took half a valerian tablet and got to bed earlier.


Ugh, stayed in bed over 12 hours but I‘m still tired. I think I’m getting better though.

Did a Google search for “depression food” to find out if my diet is perhaps causing my problems with mood and depression. I came across one article titled "How I used food to beat depression“; the author describes going to see a GP for a regular check-up and coming across a poster in the waiting room listing the symptoms of depression. Amongst them were ”Loss of energy, persistent lethargy". So far I'd been blaming my tiredness on something else, like a cold, and thinking that my ill thoughts and down mood were in turn caused by the lack of energy. But it turns out that they're all a part of depression.

I went through something very similar almost exactly ten years ago when I was visiting my family from Sydney. I can't remember if I actually had a cold or flu, but that was what Mum and I used to explain my tiredness. I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep, my mind racing with thoughts of death, the future and past; very similar to what I went through earlier this week and am still going through to a lesser degree.

Okay, lets try to get me a driver's license! I went to the RTA web site and followed the links on how to do so. The first stage is to do a Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) to get a learner's license (‘L’ plates). They have a sample DKT you can take online, so I downloaded a guide to read up on all the road rules etc. But that was quite long so I thought I'd try the test first to see how well I could do ‘dry’. I managed to pass it the first time. I tried it a few more times, with a bunch of fails (it's very strict), and a few perfect scores. I'll arrange for a real test at the RTA next week, and try to read the guide in the mean time.

Took the other half of the valerian tablet from yesterday. Still didn't sleep great.


Stayed in bed over 12 hours again and still tired. A little light-headed too.

Told Mum about my doing the practice DKT and she was pleased. I used her credit card to make an appointment for the real DKT on Monday. I should have done this eight years ago when I first moved back!

The weather was much nicer today. I went for a walk - probably my first in several months, if not all year. I also sat out in the sun several times during the day.

I‘ve decided that I’m depressed and need some help. I found a local psychologist in the Yellow Pages and made an appointment; 12:30 on the Saturday after next. She said I should get a referral from a GP, because then Medicare will reimburse $80 of her $120 session fee. So I've also made an appointment to see my GP on Monday evening.

A fly in the ointment might be that everything I‘m reading uses a time span of “two weeks or more” to define clinical depression. My concern is that when I see the GP or psych they’ll say I haven't been suffering for long enough and they can't really do much; come back in a week. Or maybe I'll be over it by then and all I can do is try to remember how I felt. But I don't think depression is something you get over quickly, so that might not be a problem.

Took a full valerian tablet this time.


13 hours in bed. I think I slept better, but Mum kinda woke me up around midnight clattering around with Con's cage. I had trouble getting to sleep after that.

Feeling worse than yesterday. I told Mum about me being depressed and the appointments I had made yesterday. She said she'd recently discussed with Tania (who has a Psych degree) about the possibility of me being “depressed” since I hadn't done much with my life in recent years. At the time I thought she was just making the common mistake of mixing up “(clinical) depression” with “being down”. But the more I think about it, there were a few things leading up to this major episode.

The day started off foggy but cleared and was sunny.

Mum and Dad left for Grandpa‘s. I went for a walk, still feeling pretty terrible. I even cried a little a few times. When I got home I broke down a little and finished the dinner Mum had made for me last night. Amazingly my mood picked right up after the meal! I’ve really lost my appetite since Tuesday and have lost a few kilos because of how little I've been eating. I guess basic nutrition can be pretty important to necessary bodily function, and that includes the brain.

I remember reading a Slashdot comment many years ago from a guy who was diagnosed as being “borderline depressed” by his GP, almost by accident. IIRC, he was overweight because over the years he had come to use food as a way to keep his mood up. At the time I read this I wondered if that applied to myself as well. But I got to thinking about my life and how I‘ve known for a while (since university?) that I normally need a good 9½~10 hours of sleep a night. Is this another sign that I’ve had some sort of minor depression all this time?

Brought Con in at 5 and set up most of his cage in the kitchen, then went to bed. I had my alarm set for 10 but kinda woke up about a quarter-to. I put Con in his cage and went back to bed. I think I'm sleeping better.


Got up just before sunrise (7am). I think I‘m feeling better, but still down and a little emotional. I don’t feel very tired.

The day started off foggy again, and frosty! The outside temperature got down below -2°C!

Had a small meal before going for a walk. Neither seemed to help how I felt. I tried to spend as much time in the sun. The only reason I‘m not getting sun burnt is that it’s the middle of winter. I must be spending at least an hour two in the sun each day, for the last several days.

I read the Wikipedia article on major depressive episode, which listed the symptoms and said five were required for a diagnoses. I think I can tick off at least 6 or 7. I also read up on antidepressants, something which I had been hoping to be prescribed to treat my depression. But after reading that article I'm not so eager.

Again brought Con in at 5 but left him for Mum and Dad, who arrived home at 8.


Another disturbed night's sleep. I don't have much trouble getting to sleep, but I wake up at some point in the middle and then seem to have a lot of trouble getting back to sleep properly. I slept in to just after sunrise. I think I'm feeling better - not nearly as tired at least.

The outside temperature had gotten down to almost -4°C and was of course foggy, but it cleared much faster than yesterday.

Mum picked me up and took me to the RTA to do the “driver knowledge test”. I did the test pretty quickly because I‘ve been practising so much online. I got a perfect score too. I had my photo taken and got a learner’s drivers license! But they took away my photo ID card I'd been using since I turned 18 :( I'm not sure if I ever scanned it.

I may have started the day feeling well, but I‘m feeling pretty terrible now. I don’t think I should be driving with this fatigue/lethargy and difficulty concentrating.

I saw my GP and told him about my depression, as well as my weird sleep patterns, unemployment, total lack of social life, etc. He said the “two weeks or more” requirement I had been seeing was nothing to worry about, and that the psychologist I had made an appointment with was good. He gave me a referral for the psychologist, a form for a blood test, and a questionnaire to return to both him and the psych.


Disturbed sleep again. I got up before sunrise so that Dad could drive me to the pathologists in town for a blood test. I felt good in the morning and it was interesting to see everything blanketed in fog and frost.

I filled out the questionnaire my GP had given me. A bunch of questions didn't apply to me, but a lot did, and I wasn't quite sure what some meant. Oh well, I'll talk that over with the psych.

Went for a walk after midday. I seem to be over the worst of the lethargy, but I'm still tired (probably from disturbed sleep) and anxious. Maybe I could do with an anti-anxiety drug? Looking up anxiolytic on Wikipedia, I see that SSRI's have also found their way onto that list.

Wondered if I should take a valerian tablet to sleep. In the end I did since it's been several days since my last one.


The valerian tablet didn't seem to help at all. I slept pretty well through about midnight but after that kept waking up. I think I got some more sleep closer to sunrise and I was considering sleeping in even more. I got up shortly after sunrise.

Hmm, overcast day and a forecast of late rain. I should get out for my daily walk early, and I wonder how the lack of direct sunlight will affect my mood.

I took a bus into town to have my GP's office make a copy of the questionnaire he gave me. My mood did lift on the drive in and walking around town. The daily walk I've been doing is good exercise, but going the same route every time might not be the best for my mood. Perhaps I should be going into town more often and just walking around. I made it back to the bus interchange just in time to catch the bus home.

Alissa came over with the kids to give me her magnetic ‘L’ plates. I can use them since she's got her P's now. It was nice to see her and the kids but it was my bed time and the kids were demanding. Sarah wanted paper to draw on and Zac wanted to play with a bunch of things. I found Sarah a few pieces of scrap paper in the output tray of the printer. She drew me a rainbow with clouds and her name, which I stuck on the fridge. She later got a bunch of coloured pieces of paper out of the car and drew flowers in a ‘card’ for Mum (‘nana’).

I was exhausted by the time they left and I went to bed soon after. Mum was kinda loud when she got home from work and later when talking to Scott on Skype. I don't want to put all the blame on her; maybe I would have woken up around that time anyway without her talking. It didn't help though.


I may be getting better sleep. It's still very disturbed though. I wake up often with a semi-racing mind.

Thankfully today's a bright and sunny day, without any fog in the morning. I took a bus into town and photographed various buildings, finishing off the roll of film I'd started at Sarah's birthday party.

From memory, here's where I went:

I took the roll into Big-W to be processed. I had meant to bring another roll I'd had for a while but somehow left it at home. There was a long line-up across the entrance to the small photographic section and I asked the woman there what it was about. She explained they have a special every year where toys could be bought on lay-by with no deposit and paid off until Christmas. I then took the bus home.

Before bed I tried a little simple meditation. I imagined myself walking in the middle of various local streets that I'm familiar with. I also added a repetitive counting up to ten. A few minutes of this seemed to calm my mind. I hoped that I would be able to recall this state later in the night when a (semi-)racing mind kept me awake.