Over five thousand written comments, over thirty thousand pieces of numerical data, and over six hundred merge fields.  Over the coming days all these strings must mesh together seamlessly to create the school reports. There will be seams, there will probably be tears (rips), and maybe even tears (me crying).  The sever that handles all this magic coughed and spluttered today.  I had been working for over half an hour on getting all the merge fields working properly on one particular report when a colleague burst into the office dramatically, “The sever is down!”  Straight away I saved my work.  No error messages popped up.  It seems that it was still working away but not taking any new incoming connections.  I think I know how it feels.  I turned it off and on again, but it still remained stubborn.  Our ICT technician stepped in and tried his technical wizardry.  He turned it off and on again, but it still did not work.  With all our sophisticated options exhausted, we rang the IT gods that govern the system.  I am not joking; they turned it off and then on again and it worked.  I left the server up time/down time, and the merge fields and data.  I went back to teaching until the end of the day when I ran out into the rain to get the climbers all filled into taxis and on their way to the wall.

A long drive through the rain and puddles found me home and data-less.  There is nothing better to shake off the merge fields and spreadsheets than chopping wood for the fire. There is the slow gentle search through the wood for easily split blocks for kindling, then there is the chopping that moves the arms and shifts the knots from a day spent in front of a computer.  The chickens and cats were then fed and watered.  The chickens are still stoically laying their one egg each ever day.  No one has pointed to them that it is not always normal to carry on through the heart of the winter darkness.  I can’t say it was totally relaxing, but it was strangely comforting to sit with the little man before he went to bed.  Ben Howard was blasting away over the crackling of the growing fire.  The little man sat beside me with his head nearly inside a box of blocks.  Periodically he held up a block to me with a look that said, “Look, look at that! That’s a block, wow!”  I agreed and carried on with a set of papers and a red pen ticking and scribbling away.  There are still about twenty four empty spaces in that database.