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Diary, February 2002


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Saturday, February 2, 2002

02-02-02

Again a special date. It was also a very warm day. In the past 100 years this day has never been as warm as it is now. Around 15 degrees Celsius.

The wedding

Another reason why this is a special day, is because of the wedding of Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima. Just before I had to leave with Annabel to the swimming pool, we saw a glimb of them on television. Later, when I was in the city I saw (without sound) the minister speak out the blessing over them with his hands on their heads. Later on, I saw some more in the Old Church in the center of the city where they had put on some TV screens.

In the evening, we watched some programs showing all the highlights of the day.

Pushing the button at the right moment

Li-Xia, wanted some pictures to be taken because it might be some time before we will meet her mother again after she has returned to China. We arrived around three o'clock at the studio, which was a little hidden. It almost looked like we stepped into a barn. There was some hay standing around as part of one of the set-ups. It was also rather dark. The photographer was still busy with some others when we arrived. We were offered some tea, and then the photographer needed some time to make a set-up for us. When he was almost ready, Andy started to wave goodbye, which means that he wanted to go away. When we were ready to take the photographs, he was not in the mood and became very active. But this did not seem to bother the photographer. He said, it was simply the matter of pushing the button at the right time. After some pictures, he asked if he could try to calm Andy down. He held Andy's legs and arms closely tight to his body, and explained that by doing this you can change the breathing rithm of the child. I faintly got some déjà-vue feeling that I had seen someone do this before. After some more pictures, we decide to take a little break, to let Andy go outside. After the break we took another series of pictures. Again Andy was moving wildly, but the photographer said that we would be surprised about how many pictures would have turned out okay. The final picture.


Sunday, February 3, 2002

Chestnut sprout

On September 28, last year, I put one chestnut in a pot with some earth from the garden. I kept it in our living room for about two weeks, but it did not do anything. I decided to put it in the shed in the back garden during the winter. About two weeks ago, I brought it inside again. Then, when I looked this morning, it had sprouted and had grown just above the edge of the pot.

(follow-up)


Monday, February 4, 2002

Taking pictures of my colleagues

Today, I took pictures of my colleagues as part of the introduction of to our new colleagues. (Someone also took a picture of me.) Next Thursday, we will move to the new office of Improve in Hengelo. I took the pictures before the "Telic Arrow" which is painted on the wall of our canteen.


Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Big fire

This morning we heard over the new that there was a big fire with a wood trading and processing company in Warmond. Our fear that it could be a customer of us, turned out to be true. The fire had started around half past three in one of the store houses. At dawn four store houses were on fire. About a hunderd fire fighters were working on the fire which could be seen from a large distance. The even made use of a nearby ferry to fight the fire from the water side. The owner of the company estimates the total damage between 15 and 20 milion euro. Around ten o'clock the fire was under control.


Thursday, February 7, 2002

Moving to the new office

In the past weeks we have been preparing for the move. Slowly all desks became empty, and instead of this stacks of boxes appeared. Today is the big day of the move. The coming weeks some of us will be busy with unpacking the boxes. Besides my computer and monitor, all my belongings fitted in a single box. Around noon, I arrived in the new office, but my things had not arrived yet. I did bring my Toshiba T1900S laptop, so there were some things I could do. Like writing this.

By the end of the day, everything had arrived, and I managed to get my desk organized.

(follow-up)


Dinsday, February 12, 2002

Year of the Horse, 4699

Happy (Chinese) New year.


Friday, February 15, 2002

Bird

While, I was scratching a thin, but strong, layer of ice from the window screens of the car, there was a little bird in a nearby tree singing a song. In the past weeks we have had had clouded weather with almost every day some rain. Now we are in a high pressure area, which means a clear sky and lower temperatures.

Het Heijderbos

I was a little afraid that the wild water course would be closed, but when I went swimming with Annabel, I found out that it was open, and that it was even nice to take. Because, I like the part outside the most, I had to climb out of the water, walk a few meters, and jump in again at the other side.


Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Do we have a spirit?

Without doubt we do have a mind. Our mind is located in our brain. The mind is a function of our brain, implying that without brain there is no mind, much like a computer program cannot execute without a computer. But do we also have a spirit, something that functions outside the realm of the physical body, and could thus exist outside the brain. Or in other words are spirit and mind truely different things? This question is not easy to be answered. The general scientific position is that spirit and mind are just different words for basically the same thing. In other words, it states that the spirit cannot exist without a brain. In the same manner, consciousness (the awareness of existence), is believed to be a function of the brain. From this view point there is nothing after death. When we die, our brain simply stops functioning, and so there is no longer a mind, nor a spirit, nor any form of consciousness. Just like a computer program stops running when there is a power failure.

This idea is not very pleasant, and that is why many people believe there is something after death. And there are also many people who do not believe that consciousness is purely a function of the brain. There are great similarities between a brain and a computer. Both are capable of processing external signals and give a proper response to these signals. If we do not have a spirit, it would be possible to just emulate our brain with a computer. At the moment, this is not possible, but in the future such a moment will come. But how complex should a computer become, before it would get a consciousness like we clearly have. (Actually, it is scientifical impossible to proof that something (human, animal, or machine) does have consciousness as we experience it ourself. Yes, it is indeed not possible to be absolutely sure that your family members are indeed conscious as you experience it yourself. And although it may sound wierd, certain people with autistic related problems, have great problems believing that others are conscious as they are.)

There are no scientific proofs that we do have spirit. There have be numerious accounts of so-called "out-of-body" experiences. These are experiences where people see themselves from outside their body. If such experiences are true, then this would be a strong indication that we indeed do have a spirit which exists outside our physical body. To me it is obvious that many of the "out-of-body" experiences (especially those induced by drugs, and those experienced during lucid-dreaming) are fake. Our brain is indeed capable of producing very real-life like things, which are not real at all. But some "out-of-body" experiences, especially occuring during a Near-Death Experience (NDE) appear to be real. In literature there are many accounts of people whoes brains did not show any electrical activity describe how they saw hospital personal trying to save their life from a "out-of-body" point of view, and that they could recount striking details of what happened. One such account was just recently published in a paper called Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands, which was publised in The Lancet issue 9298. See a description of this in the Washington Post article Near Proof for Near-Death by Shankar Vedantam.

(related entries)


Wednesday, February 20, 2002

20:02 20-02 2002

Yes, it is a palindrome date again, at least for the Dutch, as we write the day of the month before the month, and not after it, as in some languages (such as English). A pervious "palindrome" date was October 10, last year. It is also a double date.


Thursday, February 21, 2002

Snow?

This morning there was a very thin layer of snow on the car, more some specks. It look like it did snow a little.


Saturday, February 23, 2002

Hail!

Around ten o'clock in the morning, we heard the strong sound of hail stiking against the windows. Within minutes the streets became white with a layer of hail. Later during the day, there were some more hail showers, and sometimes some wet snow, which melted almost immediately when hittig the ground.


Sunday, February 24, 2002

Snow

Around half past three in the middle of the night, I noticed that it was rather light outside. When I peeked through the curtains in our bedroom, I discovered that my guess that there would be snow, was true. It was not much. There was only a little snow on the streets. Some more on the car. By nine, most of the snow was gone.


Monday, February 25, 2002

The "Caps Lock" key

I am in rather philosophical day-dreaming mood today. All the time I find myself thinking about all kinds of things that are not really directly related to the current problem which I have to solve. I just concluded that I should remove the "Caps Lock" key from my keyboard. At least twenty times a day, I press this key by accident, while I hardly ever use this key for which it was designed. It is typical one of those artifacts from the past, when we used typewriters. Nowadays, programs automatically convert to capitals when needed, or otherwise, you have buttons or menu options for achieving the same effect. I am considering physically removing the "Caps Lock" key from the keyboard. I searched the MSDN Library to see if there is any means to disable the "Caps Lock" key. To my surprise, I found many software bugs related to this key. I also found the rather funny article "How the Busman's Holiday Turned into the Skunkworks" by Victor Stone who left Microsoft April 2001. I did not find a way to disable of the "Caps Lock" key in Windows. You can make it make sound and have it disabled when you press the shift key (because that it what happens on certain types of type writers).

(Later, I discovered that some keyboard
drivers allow you to disable the Caps-lock
key from the keyboard setting menu.)


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