Happy New Year
Yesterday night, both Annabel and Andy stayed up. We did bring Andy to his bed, but he just could not sleep
because of all the fireworks that were being ignigted around out place.
At twelve, I went outside with Annabel to watch the fireworks of the neighbour
at the end of the street that always has a lot of "heavy" fireworks. We both
put our fingers in our ears.
This afternoon, Annabel made a triangle shaped
pyramid of "pepernoten" (some kind of small cookies with a round top and flat
bottom that typically are eaten during the Dutch "Sinterklaas" celebration).
She wanted me to take a picture
of it. It was five layers high and we counted 35 "pepernoten". When I asked
her how much more would be needed to make it one layer higher, she answered
21 after having made some calculations by heart. Then she also calculated that
she could make a square pyramid of four layers using 30 "pepernoten" and she
built one. Then I talked with her about the "triangle root". The "triangle root"
of 15 is 5, because 1+2+3+4+5 is 15. You calculate the "triangle root" of a number
by subtracting a half of the "square root" of sum of twice the number and a quarter.
First day in the new office
On December 30, the company I worked at moved to a
new building. The company used to be in a building that is owned by the
University of Twente, but a year ago
they indicated that they wanted to use it again. So this morning, I started
working in a new office. My desk and computer were already in place. Everything
smelled new and the doors are still missing, not that I do miss them. Another
interesting thing is that there are no light switches. The light just go on
when you enter a room, and off again when there is no (significant) movement
in ten minutes. The "normal" telephone does not work yet. The number has been
rerouted to one of the model phones. And we also do not have an Internet
connection yet. We are still kind of off-line. The first hour we were mostly
shaking hands and walking along the corridor. We also do not have a "coffee
machine" anymore, but instead have to make our own coffee (which is actually
better, I guess) and use a water boiler of making tea. These are in the
"kitchen", which also has a dish washer. The rest of the day remained a little
chaotic, also because some additional network cables were laid. It almost feels
like having started a new job.
This evening, Annabel and I went to the University
to play Go. The building was open, but it was very quiet,
because the students are still on a holiday. Martin arrived and he told Annabel
that he had dreamed the night before that he met her in a movie theater. He
decided to teach her Havannah, and went away
to get a board. They used Go stones to play the game. Hearing their remarks,
Rudi concluded that the game must be interesting. Martijn also knows the game.
In a sense Havannah and Go are quite similar although the goal of the game is
very different. They share many of the concepts. I told Martijn that it is much
easier to formalize the rules of Havannah. He said that Go also did have a few
rules. I did not agree with him, although I have to admit that the Chinese rules
are easier than the Japanese rules, the complete formalization (like I did for
Havannah) is rather complex. I played two games
against Martijn. I lost both.
On the way home, I used playing Go as an example to Annabel how things are
going in life. That you are often better off when you deal with things when
they look like going wrong (like a group getting weaker in Go) and heed the
warning signs, before they go wrong beyond repair (a group being killed).
And also that you should not be too proud thinking that you can handle things
on your own, and that you should seek help from others instead.
A sunny day
Today, it is the first time that the sun is shinning this week. We suddenly have
come to realize what it means that we do not have sun screen yet. The solution
has been to put white boards (which luckily had not been installed yet) in front
of the windows. From today the telephone and Internet connection are operational
again. Quite an improvement compared to last Monday.
This morning, I finished reading
Lila: An inquiry into Morals by Robert M. Pirsig. I guess my main
motivation to finish the book was to put on the list of books that I have read. I am not very impressed by the book.
I feel that at some points he author just babbles on and on. He could have
been much more concise. It also seems that there is not a real relationship
between all the philosophical musings and the story as it is taking place.
Where in ZatAoMM the trick of telling a story
in a story worked, it fails in Lila, maybe also because there is not much of
a story in the philosophical parts. Much of the references to events in the
past are chaotic, and sometimes rather ad hoc. And in a sense it seems that
Phaedrus, the main character (the alter-ego of the author) is as much out-of-sync
with reality as Lila, because he seems himself as a kind of genius (or guru) who
alone "understands" the nature of reality. The relationship between him and
Lila seems to be one of miscommunication. There is not much development in
their relationship. It seems that Lila is only brought into the story for the
purpose of explaining the authors "Metaphysics of Quality".
This afternoon, I found out how to get into the SparcStation 5. It turned out be much simpler when I realized what
NP stood for. In the shadow file there was the code "NP" in the password field.
I took this to mean "No Password", but I guess it meant "Network Password".
Once I removed all the "NP" codes from the shadow file, I could logon without
having to provide a password. I discovered that there was not much software
on the machine, not even a C compiler. So there is not much I can do with it.
Later this afternoon, I also discovered a very fast algorithm to find
repeating Rule 30 patterns with a small area.
The program that I wrote before, just became
exponentionally slower with wider patterns.
(Yesterday, I made another attempt to implement a faster version of for this
kind of algorithm.) I had thought before about trying to write an alternative
program, but it never worked out. This afternoon I thought about it again, and
got an idea, and wrote a simple implementation of it (without really thinking
about speed). When I ran it with debug output for some small cases, it finished
in a remarkable low number of steps. After fixing some problems and building in
some verifications and mechanism for filtering out "double" solutions, the
program did find all repeating patterns with
an area smaller or equal to 100 within five minutes.
11.7 degrees Celsius
When I left for my office, our outside thermometer indicated a temperature of
11.7 degrees Celsius. Even for the Netherlands this is a rather unusual reading
for this time of the year. Later this week temperatures are going to drop
Losing two games
This evening, I went to the Go club and played two games
with Ton. For the first game he was given a seven stone handicap. I did not play
very well, and soon lost a large group. Although I was ready to resign, others
felt that there were still possibilities and so I continued. Then Martijn came
to watch the game, and when Ton was trying to kill one of my groups, I made
a move that would keep it a live, but because Martijn remarked that that move
was only reducing my own territory. So, I made another move, but of course I
did not make the right follow-up moves, and Ton killed the group. For the
second game Ton was given an eight stone handicap. I played this game much
better, although Martijn several times saw some good opportunities to make
some big wins, I did lose at the end, but not dramatic. Martijn and Ton felt
that I screw up during the end-game.
Today, there was an item on a Dutch news site,
about who the government of the U.S. had succeeded to get a clause outside
a recent law that would forbid the use of torture on foreign terrorist suspects.
In a sense the U.S. government is sanctioning the use of torture. Talking about
human rights. It looks like foreigners in the U.S. do not have much rights when
they are suspects of terrorist crimes, and that they can even be subject of
torture. I feel the Dutch government should no deliver any Dutch citizen
or foreigner staying in our country to the U.S. in case an internation arrest
warrant has been issued for this person. In the Dutch constitution it states
that every person arrested in the Netherlands has the right for legal support
and a fair trial, no matter whether he is Dutch or not. The use of any form
torture is strictly forbidden as a questioning method.
This morning, we took Andy to his paediatrician for
his regular check-up. Before his secretary came in, we already "practice"
getting on the scales and standing under the measuring lint. While we waited,
I also discovered that he can now really count, as he was counting the beads
on some toy. When the secretary came in, he was quite happy to get on the
scale and watch the numbers. His weight is now 18.6 Kg (with underwear and diaper)
and his length is 112.5 cm. According to the growth chart he is doing fine
and even getting a little higher. That is good news. Our paediatrician told
us that this was going to be our last visit with him, because he had accepted
a job elsewhere. Next time we will meet with one of his colleagues, someone
we probably already met in the past when Andy was hospitalized.
Last Monday, Annabel bought the game
"Theme Hospital", and since then has been playing it. Although there
is a Dutch explanation on the outside of the case, there was no Dutch
language version inside. So now she is playing the English version.
She has been bugging me with question what to do in certain situations.
I think that the game is good for her, as it requires many different
skills to play the game, especially, planning and reasoning.
This evening I went to the university to play Go.
Araldo was the first one to arrive with a board, and told us that
Rudi was coming later. He also brough to baskets of Chinese stones, which
are less shinny than the Japanese glass beads and are flat on one side.
(He bought these stones in Beijing last summer when he stayed there for
two months for about 7 Euro.) We decided to play a game of Rengo with four
of us. Ton and Martijn played against Araldo and me. We lost, probably
because of some weak moves I played. It was interesting. Then I played
a game against Ton, and because we played with the Chinese stones, he
felt that we should use the Chinese handicap rules that state that black
may decided where to place his stones. I made four strong corners with
two stones in each corner. In the end I won with 6 stones. Being allowed
to place the handicap stones yourself, makes it easier to win.
A week in a second
Today, Li-Xia brought Annabel to swimming lessions because I had to work a little
longer. I went to catch her, and I arrived at about the same time we left
last week. Almost exactly the same people were standing in the lobby, and
I suddenly got this strange feeling as if I had just gone outside and come
in again and that the whole week had happened in just a second, or was the
product of my imagination. I very strange experience indeed.
Finding a parking place
This evening we were having a company meeting and dinner in Deventer. We
also went there last year, but when we tried to find a parking place, we
discovered that the road that we used before was not blocked. We had to
look for an alternative spot, which was not that difficult. We all got
out of the car and walked to the ticket machine just to discover that the
parking time was limited to two hours, and that we needed to pay for two
hours and twenty minutes. One of us made some remark about some funny red
light (still switched of) on the building just a few meters further on.
We all got into the car and when we continued, we discovered that we just
had parked at the start of the local Red Light district. There were about
six or seven women sitting behind windows in that street. It is not only
in Amsterdam that prostitutes are sitting behind windows. Other cities
are Arhnem, Alkmaar, Den Haag, and Utrecht. But many people do not know
that in Deventer there is also one small street where they have this.
We all had a good laught about this.
This afternoon I went into the city. The sale is still going on in many
shops. I bought two games, Riven and Exile, and the video "K-PAX" for
€ 11. It has been long ago that I bought something just for
myself, apart from a book, that is.
This morning, when we woke-up the world was white with snow. There was about an inch of snow outside. (Later, I heard that
there was a snow blizzard in North-East of the U.S. had caused 75 cm of
snow in some places.) Annabel was very happy. There is a reasonable chance
that the snow will stay because it is getting colder.
Most of the snow that fell yesterday
had melted away during the day. This morning there was some
more snow. This too melted away during the remainder of the day.
Biking through the snow
This morning, when I got my bike, I though I saw some
white specks dropping down. By the time I arrived at
my office, it had started snowing
When I left my office for home, I noticed that there were
some white patches on the street, and I concluded that it
snowed again a little. It has
been a long time ago that it snowed on so consecutive days.
But it was not much, and that while in Southern Europe (and
even Northern Africa) there fell so much snow.
Going to the city
Today, we decided to go to the city with all of us.
Li-Xia and Andy
went by car, and Annabel and I went
by bike, because we were going to stay longer. We met in the
C&A, where we wanted to look for some trousers for now
that the sale was still going on. We could not find any. We
decided to try our luck at the V&D. We did find some there.
Annabel wanted to take Andy one floor higher to watch the video
there. We let them go upstair and started looking through the
trousers and determining the size of them, which was difficult
because all the trousers were mixed and not all had familiar
size lables. Another problem was that the fitting rooms were
almost on the other side of the shop. The fitting room I used
had two mirrors on opposing walls, which made me aware of the
fact that the bald spot on the back of my head had grown larger.
Also the signs of my hair becoming thinner are becoming more
obvious. Another ten years, and I will be bald on the top of
my head. In ended up with selecting three trousers that were
okay, after having tried many. While Li-Xia paid for them, I
went upstairs. I found Annabel sitting behind a computer with
a touch screen playing some game far below her level, and Andy
was sitting on the ground looking through DVD's. I told him
to put them back. Then some person standing by made some
remark that he had been rearranging them very carefully. I
immediately believed what they said, and I guess they had not
realize that he is mentally handicaped.
We went to McDonalds where I ordered two Happy Meals® and
a veggie burger for myself. Li-Xia made Andy drink his "milk"
with a straw from the thermos bottle. He finished the whole
bottle. The first time. Quite an achievement for him.
After having finished lunch, we split up. Annabel and I
were going to attend Muziek voor Azie (Music for Asia), a series of benefit
performances to raise money for the Tsunami disaster in Asia.
Annabel and I attended the following performances:
Around 17:20 we went to the bike shelter to get our bikes out before they
would close. Then just after six we went to Camel and had some doner kebab
for dinner. (I guess it is now more than seven years ago that it was the last time that I had some doner kebab
there. If I remember correctly, it was Li-Xia's mother that we went
there for the last time, when Andy was still in the hospital.)
Around a quarter to seven we biked home, and when we were
almost home, it started to snow. When I later
looked out of the window, I noticed some white patches again, just like
yesterday. I went to bed early, because I felt rather tired. In
it says that the ears are never filled with hearing, but I think that sometimes
listening to music for a whole day can fill your ears and make you exhausted.
- 13:30. Orkest van het Oosten and Koor v.d. Nationale Reisopera
directed by Jaap van Zweden and solists Ernst Daniël Smid and Claudia Patacca performing:
- Ave Verum by Mozart
- Hungarian dances by Brahms
- Die Fledermaus by Strauss
- Halleluja! by H&ndel
- 14:30. Fraggle Jazz Orchestra: Big Band from De Muziekschool Twente
- 14:50. The last five minutes of 'Foe Yong Hai gaat vreemd', a fashon show on
music by by teenagers.
- 14:55. The last song of the recital of the soprano Francis van Broekhoven.
- 15:00. 'Verboden voor Kinderen' (Forbidden for children).
Songs by Willem Wilmink performed by
- 16:10. 'Klassiek en Jazz in de Foyer'. Janneminke Nijp on harp and
Christiaan Kuijvenhoven on piano.
- 16:50. L.I.N.E. from the pop academy.
- 17:00. Twents Symfonie Orkest: Fragments from Beethovens Symphony Nr. 8
- 17:30. Jeugdtheater Papageno
and Batamba! Six drummers on oil drums (directed by Hans Grutterink)
together with a childrens choir lead by Jolke Schenkel.
Bill Gates pushing software patents in Europe
Bill Gates visiting the European Union with respect to Software Patents.
I wonder why people from the European Union are even allowing some one like
Bill Gates to talk with them about an issue that is causing so much division
in Europe. What gives him the right to lobby that we European citizens don't
have, I wonder.
This evening, I went to the school of Andy,
to talk about his progress. (They really put a lot of in
effort in making a nice report and go into great detail
explain about everything.) In many ways Andy is one
of the worst in his class. His fine motor skills are very
bad, his writing is close to scratching. He speaking is
probably the worse. But he has a great sense for humour.
The teachers told me that he is often the only one that
laughs at a joke that they make (for example, when they make
a mistake on purpose). He also often gets the giggles and
cannot stop laughing anymore. And sometimes he is very
ticklish. At those times you cannot touch him anymore or
he starts laughing, and sometimes all his muscles become
soft from laughing. This evening, right before I left he
was having great fun with holding a pocket light against
his ear and shouting telephone all the time.
This months interesting links
December 2004 |
February 2005 |