Saturday 15th March, 2003: Rather a late start to the day this morning, as a result of too many pints of Bass at Tom Giblin's last night. Took a leisurely stroll to the beach, stopping for breakfast along the way at Don's Country Kitchen. Pork chops and eggs, but only two eggs - I like three, but the chops were good. The beach looked rather desolate today. It was drizzling slightly and people were few and far between. There's something quite wonderful about the sea. The constant breaking of the waves is quite mesmerizing. After a few minutes I left the beach behind me and strolled up Carlsbad Village Drive to join the library, and borrow some books and a couple of videos. I was rather surprised to find that there is a 75 cent charge for video rentals. I shall now have to actually watch what I take out, whereas before I borrowed more for the pleasure of depriving someone else of the opportunity to watch them than because I really wanted to watch them myself. By the time I was ready to leave the library, the skies had opened, and it was throwing it down. After waiting a few minutes in the vain hope that it might ease up, I gave up, and walked home and got drenched. It put me off doing anything for the whole of the rest of the day, and I never went out. This diary idea is kind of stupid. Don't check back, it's over. 

Monday 24th March, 2003: The weekend is over, another year on my age, and a few more gray hairs. Or rather, less hairs. A night at Silky Sullivan's in Fountain Valley to celebrate on Saturday, and an insight into the fury that can be unleashed by a woman scorned.

Tuesday 25th March, 2003: Quiz Night at Tom Giblin's Irish Pub. Having come close to glory in each of our three previous attempts at winning this weekly competition, our moment of glory finally arrives. The team of myself, Dave, Coby, Ray and Tommy score 21 out of 30 vanquishing our nearest opponents by a single point, and walk home with $20 between us. Almost two pints of Bass each in fact! (It's on special on a Tuesday - $2.75 for 20ozs.) Tuesday is a good night to go there. It seems that every night from a Wednesday on sees a band on stage playing Irish music, which is great up to a point, but every night is a bit much. It's even worse because quite often (read always) it seems to be the same people up on the stage, but since the owner is one of the band, it's rather a delicate subject to suggest that some variety wouldn't go amiss. Post-quiz Tuesday is Karaoke night, but usually the place empties out pretty quick. 

Friday 28th March, 2003: Today was my 'Welcome To The Company' luncheon with my department's director. Tony Roma's, 'the place for ribs', was the restaurant selected by myself for this occasion, and as we headed there my director, whom I shall call Rick, since that is his name, outlined the plan for the lunch. "I like to tell you a little bit about the history of the company, something about myself, and then find out a little about you." All well and good, and we had pretty much covered the company history part by the time we had sat down at the table. Having ordered a large glass of beer for myself, Rick ordered a Sprite and continued with the 'something about myself' part of the talk. His degree was in something unpronounceable, and something I admitted I had never heard of, but I think he'd had this situation come up before, since a detailed explanation was readily forthcoming. A few more minutes ticked by, twelve to be precise, (I knew, because I was keeping an eye on my watch as he talked), and the next time he used a long word I wasn't familiar with, and asked if I knew what that was, I was ready. 'No,' I said, 'but you know what, I'm not really that interested, so could we just skip forward to the part where I get to talk about me.' It has to be said, that he was kind of looking at me funny as I sipped on my second ice-cold beer and began my very interesting story. Twenty five minutes later, the funny look on his face had turned into more of a glassy-eyed gaze, which was more than a little disconcerting since I hadn't yet reached my second birthday, and the blackcurrant jam episode had yet to be mentioned. In fact, he seemed so anxious to leave that I was forced to gulp back my third beer in something of a hurry (I did suggest that a pitcher might have been the way to go, but oh no, the boss knows best), and back to work we went where he dropped me off before literally squealing the tires on his car as he exited the the parking lot on his way to some suddenly urgent meeting. I guess he was running late. I think lunch went well. Sometimes it's tough to make a call on these things.

Monday 31st March, 2003: I have a new diet plan. It needs a little work, a little smoothing of the edges, but the general theory is this. You go to your local grocery store on a Wednesday, and buy some Hummus. Bring it home, and then after nine days unplug your refrigerator. Leave for two more days, and then scoff the whole tub down with some crackers. Within three hours you will start to lose weight. I tried this diet, and lost an amazing 6lbs in just 8 hours, which equates to 18lbs in a 24-hour period. Not many diet plans (excluding liposuction or amputation) can match that kind of a loss. There are one or two negative side effects, but I think the end result justifies making a small sacrifice. Of course, I had to take a sick day which meant that feedback from Friday's lunch with the director would have to wait.

Tuesday 1st April, 2003: The strangest thing. Today is my last day at work. It seems a bit harsh to ask someone to leave just because they have a genuine sick day, but that's the only reason I can think of. Funnily enough, the director was also off sick yesterday with some 'post-luncheon stress disorder' condition that I have never even heard off. Word is that he'll be back in a few days when two court-appointed doctors give their approval, but apparently mine was the last 'welcome to the company' lunch that he will ever host. In a way, it's kind of nice for me to have a place in history I guess. I tried to round up a few colleagues, or should I say ex-colleagues, to go out for a farewell lunch with me, but to a man (or woman) everyone had plans. Unbelievable. And to top it all off, my team failed me miserably at Quiz Night, and I didn't even have the compensation of sharing $20 prize money with them. Next week  I think I'll try my luck as a one-man team.

  Tuesday 8th April, 2003: By the way,  I was totally kidding about losing my job last week, but do, please, keep the contributions rolling in. To date I have been totally under-whelmed by your lack of generosity and compassion. Anyway, tonight was better. I won the Quiz Night! There were a couple of other people on my team - well, OK, to be honest another five people, but a win is a win and a darn fine one it was too.

  Sunday 13th April, 2003: Took part in my first 5k race in many years, and didn't do too bad with a time of 24:52. It was an early start, with the race time being 7:05, but it was fun. I guess. At least it had stopped raining by the time the race started. It had been steadily raining most of the night. Had a good bib number too - 6009. The same upside down, and, get this, it was three times 2003. No one else seemed quite as thrilled about this fact as I was, but never mind.

  Monday 14th April, 2003: A memorable happy hour.

  Friday 18th April, 2003: Another memorable happy hour. Mini pub crawl around downtown Carlsbad. 

  Saturday 19th April, 2003: After watching my beloved Stars and Mavericks both win their play-off games this evening, and in the case of the Stars, clinch the series, I returned home and found myself being invited to a party. Not exactly a party, more a small gathering of three boring individuals and myself. The highlight of the evening was when this wart ridden, balding, and generally quite unattractive man in his fifties confidentially whispers in my ear whilst his girlfriend is inside, and asks "where are the good bars to pick up women around here?' I looked at him and said "Have you looked in the mirror lately pal? You're jolly lucky to have a girlfriend at all." OK, those weren't my exact words, but that was kind of what I meant. Dream on warty-head.

  Sunday 20th April, 2003: My long bike ride didn't quite work out today. After a little over 10 miles, OK, it was precisely 10.27 miles since you ask, I flatted (as you say in the US), or 'got a puncture' as we say in the old country. So I had to walk in cycling shoes back to a bike shop which was fortuitously fairly close by, and had the indignity of being told off by a girl for a) riding with no tools, and b) riding with no spare tube. What was I thinking? I am a disgrace to my gender. Anyway, $10 was enough to cover the cost of the necessary repairs, and I made my way home feeling somewhat chastened.

Wednesday 30th April, 2003: Dallas Stars at the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim play-off hockey. What a great evening, and a close game lost with less than two minutes to go. Oh well. After the game it was off to Silky Sullivan's for my first visit in over a month, and for my first beer in over an hour (I had one at the game.) An unforgettable evening.

  Saturday 10th May, 2003: Up with the sparrows this morning to take part in the 5k Vail Lake cross-country run in Temecula. My stupid car had a flat battery, so Renee very kindly came out of her way to pick me up, and we managed to completely miss the huge sign for the resort, and made it with about 10 minutes to spare which was enough time to register, pin on numbers, and not tie ones shoelace properly. Once again Renee left me (this time quite literally) trailing in her dust, and rather effortlessly won her age group by some huge margin. I managed to lose Renee's car key when my improperly tied shoe laces managed to undo themselves at about half-way, but despite the loss of some three minutes, managed to claim third in my age-group. Something which says more about the quality of my opponents than of my running. But a medal is a medal, and it was a proud moment to step onto the stage and acknowledge the acclaim of the crowd. It was nice of both of them to stay and watch me. 

  Sunday 18th May, 2003: Up with the sparrows again this morning to take part in the 4 mile run across the Coronado Bridge in San Diego. The car is working again, so it was my turn to drive, and this time the directions were just perfect. Didn't do too bad in the run either, but rather overshadowed (again) by Renee who finished 4th out of 126, which was quite excellent. I'm not running with her again. Ever.

Monday 19th May, 2003: The Mavericks take game one over the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. Life is good.

Wednesday 21st May, 2003: The Mavericks drop game two in San Antonio. Life is not so good, but a 1-1 split coming back to Dallas is quite acceptable.

Thursday 22nd May, 2003: Rather a stress filled day at work due to Art's one-line change causing problems, and ruining lunch at the Indian restaurant. Well, it wasn't quite ruined, but it was certainly a little less relaxed than it might otherwise have been.

Friday 23rd May, 2003: Mavericks lose at home.

Sunday 25th May, 2003: Called my old Mum on the anniversary of her 75th birthday. For a celebratory meal, they dined at the Wattenden Arms would you believe? Not exactly an adventurous choice of venue, (it must be all of a mile from home), but 'they did have roast beef on the menu' so I guess that must have been the deciding factor. Went for a 5.2 mile run in an attempt to squeeze in an extra training run on Renee, and thus begin to catch up with her. Mavericks lost again. 1-3 down, and with Dirk Nowitzki looking doubtful, it's looking like the end of the road for Dallas.

Memorial Day - Monday 26th May, 2003: My long bike ride didn't quite work out today either. I managed to get lost, and had to twice ride along the California State Highway 52 past signs saying "No Bicycles" and changing lanes with cars streaming by at 80 plus miles-per-hour was not my idea of a relaxing ride. Eventually made it home with the odometer reading 60.04 miles, although I did have to put in a small end of ride loop to ensure that the 60 mile distance was reached.

Tuesday 27th May, 2003: Now that's more like it. Nineteen points adrift, missing their top points scorer and re-bounder, (get well soon Dirk), and Dallas come back to win by 12. Absolutely stunning, and the celebrations at the G Spot went on well into the night. Well, until 9:15 when I decided to check out my colleagues' performance at Quiz Night, only to find the quiz was over and no one was to be found. So it turned into a relatively early night.

Wednesday 28th May, 2003: There I was, all ready for an update from my colleagues about Quiz Night, but guess what? No bugger from work showed up for it! I drop a small hint that I may be a little late due to Mavericks commitments, and the whole thing falls apart. I tell you, it's hard to get reliable colleagues these days.

Thursday 29th May, 2003: Shit. Sorry to start the entry of with a very rare cuss word, but it's the best word to sum up the Mavericks' fourth quarter performance. And it was looking so good for so long. Shit, shit, shit. OK, no more cussing for a while.

Saturday 31st May, 2003: My monthly trip to Orange County and Silky Sullivan's, though it wasn't very exciting. More an excuse to charge the battery up in my car, I called in for the early afternoon, and it was pretty dead in there. Had a couple of beers, and made my way home for some hockey and a beer or two in the G. 

Sunday 1st June, 2003: Eastern Liner Services have withdrawn the annual free luncheon for some of their pensioners. This was the big news from my weekly telephone conversation with my parents today. Apparently a few of the soon to be hungry pensioners are most upset about the withdrawal of this privilege. I thought I was missing something (not a word from you please) and that maybe this lunch was a weekly or daily thing, but no - it's all of once a year. Maybe I'll have such worries when I'm old (not a word, you've been warned once already).

Monday 2nd June, 2003: Go Ducks! They tie the Stanley Cup series with New Jersey at 2-2, with yet another OT win, albeit a very short OT.

Tuesday 3rd June, 2003: Alex breaks the school 100 meters record by running a 13.66 and Amy breaks my bank with a grade 7 SAT score in Geography. What a pair of stars, but I already knew that. 

Wednesday 4th June, 2003: Alex wins the district school 400 meters with a time of 69 seconds, places second in the 100 meters, and takes the relay team from third after 300 meters to first. Quite the little hero.

Sunday 8th June, 2003: Renee places third in the 4 mile Liberty Run, and I improve my time by about 20 seconds to place 17th. Great! Never running with Renee again. I mean it.

Independence Day - Friday 4th July, 2003: Last night was memorable for one reason. There I was talking with the owner of the G-Spot, and up walks a guy by the name of Rudi who hands over $600 in cash and says "free drinks for everyone."

Sunday 6th July, 2003: These long weekends suck.

Saturday 19th July, 2003: Renee wins her age group in the 4 mile Run for the Pennant at Qualcomm Stadium this morning. Due to a technical hitch, she is denied her walk of glory, but does finally receive her rightful reward. My performance doesn't need to be mentioned, but let me just say I am never running with Renee again.

Sunday 27th July, 2003: A train trip to LA to watch Manchester United play Club America and beat them 3-1. Some kind of record here, since of the four goals scored, I saw just one. Two came at the start of the second half as I was in the beer line, and the last one came as we were leaving the stadium to get a jump on the traffic. Train ride was most pleasant - some nice scenery.

  Saturday 9th August, 2003: English football gets underway again, and Crystal Palace win away to Burnley finishing the match with just nine players. A good start.

  Tuesday 12th August, 2003: Palace win again, this time in the Carling Cup, away to Torquay United (one of the few clubs with all five vowels in their name) on penalties. And we finished with ten players.

   Saturday 16th August, 2003: Crystal Palace win at home to Watford, and move into third place in an admittedly embryonic table. Still can't finish a game with all 11 players though.

  Sunday 17th August, 2003: Crystal Palace win again and go top! Four out of four. The long away trip to Wimbledon proved to be no problem as we come from a goal down at the half to win 3-1. Plus we finished the game with a full side. Chelsea win as well, 2-1 home to Leicester City. 

Sunday 24th August, 2003: Renee places       in the 4 mile Moondoggies Run from La Jolla to Pacific Beach, and I improve my time by about 2 seconds to place nowhere. Great! Never running with Renee again.

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