Born to die
Some babies are born to die. They are born prematurely, without a reasonable
chance of surviving the first days of their life. The wife of my brother-in-law
was expecting a baby. It seems that she was suffering from hydramnios, a condition
of an access of amniotic fluid. She was about six and half months into her
pregnancy, but many people were asking her how many days she still had to go.
Last Saturday, she had a premature rupture of the membrames, which lead to
premature contractions. On Sunday morning around three o'clock her son was born.
He only lived for fifteen hours.
As far as I know the cause for the hydramnios was not established, and no
treatment was given. This may sound strange, but I should note that they live in
the P.R. of China. Hydramnios can be caused by serious development disorders of
the child, such as gastrointestinal abnormalities that block the passage of
fluid, abnormal swallowing due to problems with the central nervous system or
chromosomal abnormalities, or heart failure.
Yesterday during the commercials, I was confronted with the
rather violent scene of two man boxing with their bare hands. I was wondering
who was using this rather sick scenes as part of their advertisement campain.
Then it became clear it was a commercial for the
Smart Roadster. I have considered buying a
Smart for it being environmentally friendly, but now I am not very sure anymore,
if I see what kind of image they are surrounding themselves with.
Someone from our company wanted to go by train to an appointment in
Almere tomorrow at nine. So, he entered the data in the
Snelplanner (from: 'Enschede',
to: 'Almere Muziekwijk', arrival 9:00) and it returned a journey advice with 6
changes, taking an incredible detour, while it can be done with just a single
change, if you don't mind arriving a little earlier or later. Just for the risc
of missing one change, you would be better not to follow this advice. And you
will have to make a printout of this advice, just to show it to the persons
checking your tickets, otherwise they would fine you for having an invalid
ticket for the route you are taking. For people from abroad, who are unfamiliar
with the Dutch geographics, this is a very misleading advice.
Islamic Financial Services
I always thought that Christians and Jews were smart in circumventing
their religious laws. Now, I have discovered that Islamic financial
services also know their tricks. Recently, HSBC have opened their
Amanah branch. They have clever ways of providing mortages with zero
interests. One of the tricks is that the bank first buys the property
and then sells it for a higher price to the final owner, who then
doesn't have to pay any interest for the running time of the mortage
that the bank provides. Another construction is that the bank simply
rents the house to final owner.
Yesterday, the appeal of Volkert van de G., the person who killed Pim Fortuyn, started. There was a news item about him stating that
several experts had mentioned in the newspapers that he might suffer from
Asperger syndrome. During
the trial some experts will be heard about this syndrome. As far as I know, no
official diagnoses has been given.
This morning it was
only 13.2 degrees Celsius outside. And it was raining. Luckily, it raining
became less when I started to bike to my office. The South of Europe is having a
heat wave for many weeks. I decided to bring a sweater to the office, because
yesterday I felt a little cold. It still remains light outside till about half
past ten in the evening. Although the longest day is already behind, it seems it
still remains light late in the evening. The sun
goes down around
ten in the evening.
Rainbow and fire
around five past nine, I saw a rather faint rainbow from the kitchen window
(which happens to be on the South side of our home).
At the moment a cacoa silo in Zaandam is on fire. The fire is not spreading
but the fire brigades have a hard time to exstinguish it. Today, an Cougar
transport helicopter from the Army is going to give assistance. In the past
weeks we had a number of (unrelated) big fires. Fire brigades are organized per
county. Would it not be a good idea if all fire brigades would have access to
some dedicated fire controlling helicopter. Just one would be sufficient for the
whole of the Netherlands, because within an hour it could fly everywhere were
The Virgin Suicides
I just watched "The Virgin Suicides"
Andy and I visited the graduation exibition of the
AKI students. It was the last day of the
exibition, which started to Friday, June 27. We
first went to "Hal D", one of the oldest buildings on Campus, which has been
abandond some years ago, and is now used by the AKI. Walther Langelaar has made
a virtual game environment from it, which can be reached on port 27960 of
184.108.40.206. I do not know which game engine is used. Based on the port number
it could be Elite Force or Quake III. I did take some pictures. Andy did enjoy
it. I met with Meindert to our
mutal surprise. He moved to Amsterdam last year, and this was only his second
time back in Enschede. Andy and I also went to the main building, where we only
looked at the exibitions at ground level, because Andy was getting bored, and
time was running up.
I just discovered that the band making all the noise on
June 27 is called
Toydeath. They are from Sidney,
Australie. barbydoll-G.I.Joe-Teddybear play Disco-Punk-Noise on electronic toys
Li-Xia just phoned me to inform that there was
one l'espion spy camera left at the local
Megapool shop, with the question if I was
sure that we should buy it. They are having it on sale for € 19.95.
Originally it was priced about three times as expensive. Second hand they were
still sold for around € 30.
I also have started a photo blog
with some pictures made with the
l'espion spy camera. It includes
a picture of what I had for dinner:
some beans, some won ton soup (left over from some won ton that
Li-Xia made in advance) and a bowl with some rice.
die after separation surgery. Their wish to be separated finally lead to their
death. I personally do not (and can not) understand why they wanted to be
separated. Was it a brave decision, knowing that the risks were so high, as many
have been suggesting? Or should they rather have accepted their fate?
If I look at the pictures, I took with the l'espion spy camera I note the
The above observations made me think about a program to
improve the quality. You could measure the differences
in sensitivity of the individual pixels, and compensate
for this. The program could also correct for the "lens"
error. Such a correction will, inevitably, reduce the
sharpness of the image a little, because averaging takes
Today, I received two empty emails. Upon investigation,
I discovered that one of them contained a
nasty virus. (I wrote a base64 decoding program for it.) A similar technique as
the earlier one that I discovered. Again an IFRAME was
used pointing to a midi file with the extension scr,
which contained a small COM file, I guess. It seemed
rather small for a virus. I did not "play" the file.
The other email, from someone called Walliw Davis, was
- It looks there is systematic "fisheye" lens error. (I already figured
out how to correct this
with the Gimp.)
- The image is not sharp on the edges.
- The camera cannot deal with a lot of contrast. This often
results in white areas.
- Under poor lightning conditions, differences in
sensitivity of the pixels become visible.
- Because of the low resolution, often "fake" colours
are seen along lines with a strong contrast.
- It is difficult to keep the camera straight.
- It is difficult to aim the camera correctly.
- You can make some interesting shots.
- General usability is low, but it is a great gadget.
Not growing enough
This morning, we took Andy to the
hospital for his regular check-up. Everything was okay.
Sometimes, I just wonder why we are still seeing our
paediatrician. Just before he was going to finish the
consultation, I asked if I could have a look at his
growth cart. Andy is now 103 cm and 15.7 kilo. His weight
is perfect for his length, but he did not grow enough in
the past half year. The average length for Dutch boys at
this age is 118 cm. Looking at our lengths, the average
length is around 110 cm. But what is more worrying is
that the graph is flattening. He explained that in the
first years children just grow on the amouth of calories
they get, around Andy's age, it going to be determined
by the amouth of growth hormone. He decided to check the
various growth related hormone levels (TSH, FT4, IGF-1, and
IGFBP-3). He is the endocrinology specialist of the
childrens department, so we wont have to change to another
Going into the city
Today, we were alone during the day. Annabel
is staying with my mother for the
past two weeks and will come back
tomorrow. Andy is staying on the "Klim Op" for
the very last time on a Saturday, as he used to be doing twice every
month. That meant that Li-Xia and
I could do whatever we wanted. In the morning
we did some cleaning. Li-Xia took care of washing the clothes, and I
did some vacum-cleaning. Then around half past eleven, we biked into
the city and made use of the free guarded parking place under the
V&D shop. We went to "Le Monde" and sat outside and ordered a
lunch. Then we walked around looking for an USB extension cable,
because this morning I discovered how I might could use the
500 mm lens in combination with
my webcam as a telescope.
We failed to find any reasonably
priced cable. We looked around some other shops and some small things.
Then we looked around an consumer electronics show. Prices of large
flat televisions sets are dropping. I am still happy with the small
television that we have. On the way back, Li-Xia wanted to look at
some shop, she thought was a Turkish shop. She was right, and they
did have some vegatables that she had not been able to buy for a
long time. Now, I am sitting outside, and while I wrote this,
Andy has returned, and I had to feed him. He is also playing in the
(follow-up on the telescope)
This afternoon, Andy was
playing with MagnaDoodle, when he suddenly came
running with it to us, shouting: Auto! Auto!. That is
the Dutch word for car. And indeed the drawing he
had made resembled a car. I immediately took a
picture of it, because
it is his very first drawing.
This afternoon, I continued experimenting with
looking through my 500 mm lens with the webcam. I did
find some macro extension rings, which turned out
to be perfect for connecting the webcam to the lens. Just
a single piece of tape is sufficient to "glue" the things
together. It gives an incredible magnification. I wanted
to take a picture of some ants walking around in the
garden from the kitchen (because that is where the computer
is). I put one of the kitchen chairs on the kitchen table,
got some box and a pillow and put the lens on top of it,
and spend some fifteen minutes trying to aim it. The whole
thing was very sensitive to vibrations, and the focus depth
is less than ten centimeters (four inches). I had a hard
time figuring out what the lens was aiming at, and had to
refocus all the time. Finally, I did see some ants walking,
but they walked too fast to be photographed at all. Just
turned into blurs. Still, it was rather interesting to
see ants from 15 meters (45 feet) away. I am definitely
trying to take some pictures of the moon when it is
visible in the evening. Yesterday evening, I tried to look
outside, but it turned out it was too dark. But I think that
the moon will be okay.
Today we had a goodbey meeting for Andy at the Klimop,
because in August he will go to the new school. He was not behaving very nice,
which he always does when things go different than normal, or when there are
too many people and he is losing the overview over the whole situation. He did
drink some orange juice from a straw, which he did for the first time (if I am not
mistaken). It looks he is always behaves well, when he stays there. His holiday
only start at the 26th, but today was the last day for his personal
supervisor. They officially close by the end of this week. Next week, Andy will
attend a camp, which is being held in the same building.
Start of holidays
The holidays really have begun. This week, I am the only one in my room.
Next week, my holidays start, and one of my colleagues will return. Last
Wednesday was a hot day with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius. In
the afternoon, Annabel ran over to our new
neighbours to borrow a pump, and I spend almost an hour to set up the
inflatable swimming pool. And while I was doing this, dark clouds appeared
and the sound of thunder could be heard. In the evening it started raining
and during the night the thunder and lighting continues. Temperatures dropped
a little, but on Friday and Saturday is became hot again. On both days, Annabel
and Andy played in the swimming pool for some time.
We took some pictures and video of this. Annabel has been taking a lot of
pictures lately with the l'espion
This weekend, I watched Une liaison pornographique. Although I do not agree with the idea of
a sexual relationship outside marriage, I found this movie quite good, with
a lot of attention to details and a rather realistic presentation of emotions
that occur when two people fall in love with each other. It has a very sad
ending. I did not consider this as a very erotic movie, because it is far
more about their feelings and emotions then about anything else.
I also watched 2010. I think
this movie is rather bad. From comments, I understand that the book is better.
Still I think that the idea of turning Jupiter into a second sun that is visible
from Earth, is totally impossible. Even if it would be possible to start nuclear
fusion on Jupiter, it would have literally vaporized its moon Europe, that was
supposed to become a second "Earth".
A number of Christian organisations in the Netherlands have started the petition
Stop de Porno, which is a
petition again pornographic expressions in public places and the media.
Sciscoop has an item on an article to appear in American Scientist on Quantum
Entanglement. The weird quantum effects seen in Feynman's version of Young's
double-slit experiment are shown to be a result of quantum entanglement
instead of quantum uncertainty (Copenhagen) or multiverses. Interesting
idea. So, is it really true that photons "experience" no time (because
the move at the maximum possible speed), but simply connect "events" in
space-time? Maybe the whole concept of photons moving through space is
simply wrong. Maybe it is just our perception of it, because we are "bound"
Too hot for a coat
This morning it was 18.5 degrees Celsius outside. It felt a little
colder, but before I arrived at my office, I had to take of my coat.
There was some rain (even some thunder) last evening, and tomorrow
it also rained a lot. Weather today will be a very sunny day is still
unclear but at the moment the sun starts to shine stronger.
Yesterday, Annabel did some more picture taking. One of the pictures was
of the street sign, but the name is not readable. She also took a mysterious
picture that took me some time to figure out what it was.
(hover your mouse over here for the answer.)
Tonight, I watched the movie Aliens: Ressurection. I already
read some of the commentaries, most of them being rather negative.
I thought, that the movie was okay, compared to the others that
Today, we went to Eindhoven to visit some Chinese friends. We arrived
around a quarter past one and stayed till around eight. When we let
Andy out of the car, he immediately ran inside
to check-out the place. Of course, we drank some tea and ate some
noodles. During the afternoon we talked and we made a walk to their
vegetable garden. They gave us some vegetables to take home. For dinner
we had seven dishes and some soup, which was served at the end of the
meal. Just when we were about to leave, Annabel
wanted to play some Go with their eldest son. We gave them the opportunity
to do so. It was a little after eight that we left for home.
Today, we had our yearly visit to "De Waarbeek".
Annabel and I tried the cable seats going over
the water. This was the first time for me, because before I was too heavy.
This morning, I was just below 80 Kilogram.
Andy was only interested in the train. We stayed
for about four hours. The weather was hotter than expected.
This months interesting links
June 2003 |