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Diary, March 2004

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Tuesday, March 2, 2004

The Choice Maker

Sunday evening, I received an email from James Baxter the author of Behold! The Age of Man the Choicemaker with his article Human Defined: Earth's Choicemaker. When I went to his web site, I discovered that he is of my fathers generation and that he even served in World War II. A rather amazing man, although I do admit that I do not fully understand his articles.

Auditory Processing Problems in Autism

Auditory Processing Problems in Autism. Interesting article, but this seems to contradict it. According to this page, I must conclude that I am a spatial learner. I am afraid that Annabel is also a spatial learner and probably even a gifted one.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

I won my first Go game

Yesterday evening, Annabel and I went to the Go club. Annabel is no longer playing in the competition and I have decided that from now on she can only come during a school break because every time it is becoming too late, and I feel she is not that interested in playing Go anymore (at least not at the club, where she is faced with older people who are all much better than her). I one my first competition game while playing against a 5 kyu player with a nine stone handicap for him. During the middle of the game, he saved a group that I was not aware of that it was dead. I had not noticed that it had a fake-eye, and that a second eye could not be made. Just right after, I tried to make one of my weak groups a little stronger, but when he played a stone inside this group, I got the feeling that I had been too late. My response to that move was also incorrect, and I realized that I could not make two eyes anymore. But I did not give up, and tried to fight myself outside, because I would have lost the game anyway if I would lose this group. It appeared that one of the groups surrounding my dying group was also not in good shape, and with some moves, which required immediate reaction, I managed to encircle it. When it became clear that it had less freedom than mine, he resigned with a handshake.

Afterwards, I watched a "quick" game between Rudi and Marcel, two strong player of the club. The did not mind me actively watching the game, making remarks and stating questions. At one point during the end game, Annabel also came to take a look, and when asked about a good move when it was Marcel's turn, she pointed her finger a location after a few seconds. It appeared to be the exact move Marcel made. It made have been a lucky guess, but I do think she already begins to develop a good sense for what are good places to play.

Friday, March 5, 2004

God, Consciousness and the Universe

God, Consciousness and the Universe. This page reminds me about my two big questions.

Rubber bands ball

Annabel got some more rubber bands from a postman today. This evening, she asked whether you could make a big ball from it. So we gave it a try, and ended up taking this ball of about 130 rubber bands with a diameter of about 10 cm (4 inch). Of course, it made me think about the question how you could make a round as possible ball. Or to formulate it as a mathematical question, how can to "cover" a sphere with circles, such that crossing points are nicely spread over the circle. Of course the answer also depends on whether all the circles have to have the same diameter, and whether this diameter is equal to that of the sphere or not. I did discover that it is possible to put a rubber band around a ball with no twists if you put it around it a odd number of times. Using this property I created two smaller balls with only three or four rubber bands.


Saturday, March 6, 2004

Wet snow

This morning, when I looked out of the window, it was snowing. Wet snow, because as soon as it hit the ground it disappeared, except for some small patches on the car. Later this day, it snowed a little more.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Daddy thief

Yesterday morning, when Andy came down, he ran to me, and repeatedly told me "Daddy thief" (of course, he said "papa dief" in Dutch). Then Li-Xia explained that he often says this when he does not find me in our bedroom because I already have gone downstairs. I am wondering about his concept of "thief" now. It seems to something like someone who makes takes away something (including possibly himself). Or is this simply an example of creative word use. I guess the truth is somewhere in the middle. Funny but I cannot come up with a word for someone that hides him/herself for others.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Dark and bright

Yesterday evening, the street lights were out. Our bedroom is on the street side. So it was darker than usual. When I woke up during the night, I noticed that the lights were on. This morning it looked rather bright outside, and when I looked out of the window, I knew why, it was
snowing. And it kept on snowing the whole morning, although temperatures are already too high for having the snow stay on the streets.

Studying at Dutch universities is becoming more expensive

Today the Labour party announced that they agree with the proposals for making academic studies more expensive for the students, because they will earn more in the future. I really do not understand this line of reasoning, because here in the Netherlands we have a progressive tax system where you pay a higher percentage of tax if you earn more. Meaning that students are going to pay more tax in the future anyway. We do have a system where students can borrow money, but it is clear that many students from a poor back ground will be think twice. In the end it will prevent poor students with good talents to get higher up. And I always got the impression that that is what Labour parties want. But apparently, education is not seen as a means to promote wealth for the whole country, including the poor, old, ill and disabled.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Some students that are working with my company came up with the idea of eating pancakes for lunch.
"De Stek", a restaurants at the campus, was serving pancakes this week. It first I turned down their request to join them, but then I decided to join them. It was once for all. First of all it took almost an hour before our pancake arrived, and then it turned out that they half burned and rather thick. We had to finish them as quickly as possible to be back in the office in time.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Swimming more than a kilometer

Yesterday evening, I went swimming
again. While starting to swim back and forth the stretch, I tried to determine the length of the stretch. There were tiles along the wall, and at regular intervals there were tiles with different colours. There were ten such places, and they were ten tiles apart. With the extra tiles on the ends this made a total of 96 tiles. I tried to determine the width of tile using my body length. I counted about 14 tiles for 1.76 meter, so each tile must be more than 12 cm. Then I asked some other swimmer if he knew the length. He guessed that it was 17 meter. I am not very good at doing math by heart while swimming, but somehow I arrived at 13.8 meter. When I was almost done swimming the stretch 94 times, I used my glasses to measure the width of the tile. Then I also asked a member of the personal about the length. He said it was 15 meter. At home, I concluded that the tiles must be about 13 centimeter wide, and that 13 times 96 is 1248. Assuming that the length of the stretch is 12.5 meter, the total distance becomes 1175 meter.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Playing Go with a friend

This afternoon, Annabel and went to Ton, a former roommate of my old friend Meindert, who also goes to the Go club. He just came back from the city when we arrived. His daughter Sara was downstairs learning some Latin words (she just started highschool, I guess). In the summer of 1997, Annabel and Sara already met one time, but neighter of them could remember each other. Annabel first played a little on their piano. I always feels she plays better when she has play by heart, because then she has to listen to what she plays. Then we sat down with the four of us with two Go boards, two bags of stones, and four cups of tea. The girls played three games, and then they went upstairs. They are about the same strength. Ton is much stronger than me (around 10 kyu, if I am not wrong). I started with nine stones ahead, and in the middle of the game it looked like I was going to win, with one quarter of the board only having black stones. But of course, the corner was not controlled by me, and he took it. I made several mistakes in trying to make his area as small as possible, which resulted in him controlling the whole quarter of the board, and making me lose the game with about 70 points (I forgot the exact number). The girls had been playing upstairs all the time. We talked a little about our struggles with life. It was a very nice afternoon.


Sunday, March 14, 2004

Biking to church

Annabel suggested that we bike to church. Usually, we take the car. Going by car seems faster, but in reality biking is almost as fast because there is a substantial shorter route available. Annabel can now bike as fast as I can, except when there is a strong wind. We made it well in time.

Every second Sunday in the month we celebrate the Lord's Supper. This time we immediately did it after our singing and worshipping time and before the sermon. I had been thinking about some rather philosophical questions with respect to what we can know with our mind about the nature of reality and the structure of human knowledge. Everybody usually walks to the front during the celebration for receiving the bread and the wine. Usually, two couples are asked to help, where one (usually the woman) hold the dish with the bread, and the other hold the cup. At the end there was a woman, that I cannot remember having seen before, pushing a wheelchair with a girl, her daughter, I presume, to the front. The girl looked very immobile and absent, suggesting that she was mentally handicapped as well. But she looked very much in control (a little to my surprise) when she picked the bread and took the cup. The woman holding the dish with bread brushed her cheek with the top of her hand. I felt very touched by the whole scene. We cannot look in the hearts of people.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Soft weather

This morning it was 12.2 degrees Celsius outside when I left to my office. Yesterday it was about the same temperature. Even higher temperatures are predicted for tomorrow, if at least the sky clears up. So far it has just been grey.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

School performance

Annabel gave a book presentation at school. She was the first one to give one this year. She was graded "very good". She also brought home her scholary report. Most things remained stable and some, like "concentration", went up. But there was one item where she went from "sufficient" to "insufficient", and this was spelling. This made me rather angry, because she has to practice this at home (the only homework that she has), but has been escaping this in the past months giving me the impression that she was doing fine. I know this problem with spelling very well, because I am having problems with it as well. I am also a little disappointed that the teacher has not informed me about this, and I will tell him next Monday.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Yesterday evening, I went to the Go club, and it happened I had to play against Ton again. So it was my chance for a revenge. I had been looking at the Joseki Tutor and the Joseki page of Sensei's Library. It did help a little. Especially in the middle of the game, I felt like I was not playing with a good strategy in mind. We both made an auto-atari move. In the end I lost with 19 stones, but because of my rating at the competition ladder, it still might be counted as a win for the competition. During the game I made some remarks, like "what am I doing here?" and "that was a good action", that raised laughs from the others. An as usually a crowd gathered around one of the ongoing games between the strongest player and one of the promising talents. I am gaining interest in the game, and I also sense that my understanding of the game is increasing. I notice this, because suddenly certain concepts start to become meaningful.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Dust from the Sahara

Yesterday evening, when we went to pool, the car was covered with dust. I discussed with Annabel the origin of this dust, and I made her conclude that it must have been spores. During the weather report on the news it was explained that it was actually dust from the Sahara.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

New painting by Billy Foley

Today, I saw a new painting of Billy Foley in the gallery "Beeld en Aambeeld". It looks rather like my favourite work, but it is a little smaller. It costs € 1750. Much less than his larger works, but still a lot of money. Still it would not be a waste of money, because I still believe the prices will go up, once he becomes better known.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Left eye getting worse

Last Saturday, Li-Xia complained that her vision in her left eye is getting worse. She sees a brown fog everywhere and cannot see sharp anymore. She has an appointed next Friday with the eye doctor to discuss the pictures that were taken on Wednesday March 10, now almost two weeks ago. They did not do the fluorescein angiography as decided on February 26 because she reported that she has had serious allergic reactions in the past, and the assistant did not want to take the risk because they could not contact the eye doctor. They took some normal pictures instead. This morning Li-Xia phoned with the assistant of our G.P., who gave her the telephone number of our insurance company to ask them if they could help getting an earlier appointment. I phoned there, but they told me that they only help if the appointment is more than three weeks away, and that they could not help us. Then I phoned the secretary of the eye doctor and explained the situation. Through her, I heard that the eye doctor needs the fluorescein angiography pictures, and that she cannot do anything with the colour pictures that were taken instead. This made me really a bit angry. It looks like Li-Xia now had to wait two and half weeks just to hear that they took the wrong pictures if I had not phone them now. She can come at the end of this morning. I hope they decide to let her have the fluorescein angiography before the next appointment of coming Friday. The simple conclusion that I have drawn from this, is that I have trusted the medical profession too much again, and that the next time, I should immediately phone them when something does not go as it should go. I am also afraid that they will not be able to do much about Li-Xia's eye condition after all.

Blood in the eye

The eye doctor that Li-Xia visited, concluded that there was more blood inside her eye. She has ordered some blood test for tomorrow morning and some X-ray pictures on Wednesday. The latter I do not understand. I wonder what can be seen on an X-ray picture as an eye is made out of soft material. Or are they going to inject some contrast liquid?

( follow-up)

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Talking with the teacher

Yesterday evening, I talked with the teacher of Annabel. First I told him about the similarities between her report and mine when I was her age. (I had dig it up from my personal files, just before I went.) I also told him about my own problems with spelling, but that I did make it through university. And that once scored as gifted on a official IQ test. When I told him that Annabel had been hiding with respect to her spelling home work, he explained that she had been doing the same to her. He said that he would keep an eye on her spelling problems, and in case they remain, check if she might have (a mild form of) dyslexy. She scores okay on understanding texts. Then he told me that he was really surprised about her book presentation last week. Her presentation was very structured and clear, and most surprisingly, she did not get side-tracked by questions raised by the children, something that he found to be rather surprising, as children of her age are easily do. She also did not show any sign of stuttering, with which she sometimes struggles.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Not an X-ray picture, but an ultrasound of the blood vessels in her neck. I read somewhere (on the Internet) that blood in the eye can be caused by a blockage of the retinal arteries. I remember that to compensate the reduced blood flow, the eyes starts to grow new blood vessels, which leak easily.


Afterwards, I went to the art gallery to have a look at the painting by Billy Foley again. When I was there, I was given a copy to the catalogue named "Foley". This catalogue is published in an edition of 1000 copies. The publication marks an exhibition of new paintings and drawings executed between 1998 and 2002. I was quite happy with receiving this catalogue for free. It does not contain a picture of the painting. At home I showed it to Li-Xia and Annabel.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Cold and speckles of snow

This morning, it was 1.6 degrees Celsius outside. When the school bus for Andy arrived, I noticed some white things falling from the air, some speckles of snow, that only stayed on the frost on the windshield of the car.

Falling star

This evening, around forty past eight, Annabel and I went outside, because I had read somewhere that the ISS could be seen passing overhead. There were some thin clouds, but apart from the planets (Venus, Jupiter and Saturn) we could not see anything special, until we suddenly saw a slow moving meteorite right above our head flying from the North to the South. Annabel said it was the first she saw, but I told her that she had seen one before. I guess it is my sixth.


Saturday, March 27, 2004


Last Saturday, I bought one piece of Fennel (for about € .70). Today, Li-Xia noted that I had completely forgotten the tofu she bought on Monday, and that it was becoming old. I got some of the tofu, two tomatoes, ten black olives and some fennel. I cut everything in small pieces an heated all of it in the microwave for about two minutes. Li-Xia likes it very much. She especially liked the fennel, which she never tasted before. I have become very fond of vegetables. Most people see meat as the main ingredient of dinner, and do not like vegetables. But I feel that vegetables are actually far more interesting. In a sense they are the perfect food: rich in vitamines, minerals, and fiber. Low in fat, having complex carbs and a wide range of proteins, especially in beans. Tofu is a very nice source of proteins. Besides this many of them contain anti-oxidants and have cancer surpressing properties.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Picking your nose and eating it

I used to pick my nose and eating it, until Li-Xia convinced me that eating was bad. Today, I read on Ananova that Innsbruck-based lung specialist Prof Dr Friedrich Bischinger claims that it is a healthy practice, because it strengthens your immunity system. I think that the practice of cleaning your nose by sucking (instead of blowing it into a handkerchief), and swallowing the liquids, probably has the same effect. I usually do this while biking to my office in the morning.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Andy's teachers

This evening, Andy's teachers came to drink some tea with us, and to discuss his progress. Andy had just gone to bed, and because they had told him that they would come, we went upstairs to his room to say goodnight. At first he looked a little surprised, but then he was happy. He did not mind them going down. He is really doing well in school. At first they were a little afraid that he was not picking up much, because he is constantly moving with his body, but now they have discovered that he follows everything and everybody, even if he falls off his chair out of enthousiasm, he does not lose track while he claims back on his chair. The only thing that is a problem is that he sometimes teases the other children, out of frustration or because he want to test his limits.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004


This morning, I thought I noticed a police car because it was painted with red bars, when I realize it could not be a police car because it had a big box on top of it. When I saw the Cyclomedia logo on the side, I knew that it was not a police car. Inside the box is a super-fish-eye camera looking straight up in the air, with which they take pictures, which are scanned with a special scanner to create 360 degree panoramas. These can be used for all kinds of purposes. Apparently they do this for all cities in the Netherlands. When the car stopped along the road, I waited to see if they were going to take a picture, but when it took too long, I just continued.

This months interesting links

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