First summer day
Today, we had the official first summer day. A summer day is defined when
temperatures reach 25 degree Celsius at the nation weather institute in
De Bilt, a small city near Utrecht in the center of the country. In some
areas in the South of the country, temperatures even reach 30 degrees Celsius.
This is extremely hot weather for the time of the year.
Tonight, Annabel and I went to the University
to play Go only to find that the building where we
usually play was closed. In front we found Rudi waiting. We went to see
if Fanaat was open. And there we found Martijn. I informed Rudi and he
got the boards and stones from his car. We decided that Rudi would play
a simultaneous game against the three of us. Annabel played three games,
the first two she lost, the last one she won. Martijn also won, but I
resigned when I lost one of my corners, and concluded that the loss would
be to big.
A special day
First of all, it is one of these special dates,
because the date can be written as 05-05-05. Secondly, it is national liberation
day, because 60 years ago, World War II ended in the Netherlands. Thirdly, it
is ascension day, the least celebrated Christian holidays. The local tradition
is to get up early and go biking. The sky was clear, so I woke up
Annabel around a quarter to six in the morning.
We left around half past six. First we biked to Usselo, next to Boekelo, and
half way to Beckum, we saw a pheasant in a field (at least that is what we
thought it was). In Beckum we stopped a little, and then we continued to
Delden, a long straight road. On top of the bridge over the Twente Canal
we took some pictures. We biked through Delden, and around a quarter to
eight we were standing before Twickel Castle.
There we ate something and I took another picture. Then we continued to Borne
where we arrived 8:10 and then Hengelo, where we visited some friends.
After having drank some cups of tea, we took their daughter with us and
biked back to Enschede where we waited a long time for the liberation parade,
which consisted of drum bands and about a hunderd World War II vehicles including
three tanks. And of course there were Canadian veterans traveling on the
vehicles as well, which were welcomed with a lot of clapping.
First Go tournament
This afternoon, Annabel and I went to Amstelveen,
so that she could join the Kunwa Childrens Go Contest, which was part of
the Amsterdam Toyota PandaNet Tour. Fourteen children joined into the
contest, which were divided into two groups. A group of six children played
on 19x19 boards, and the other eight played on 13x13 boards. Annabel was one
of the stronger players on the 13x13 boards. We enlisted her as 20 kyu, but
later had to correct this to 22. She won 4 out of 7 games and reached the
fourth place. All children received some price. Annabel brought home some
"Go-sweets" (zwartwitjes from Venco) and
a clown doll on a swing.
Winning with one point
When Annabel and I arrived this evening at
the University to play Go, Martijn was already
there. Because he had carried six sets, we could start playing again.
I won with one point, but would have lost, had he not warned me twice
during the end game about some move that was going to cost me a lot
of stones. Afterwards he said he had not made any "elephant" moves,
which are moves that are not going to work, but confuse players like
me so much that we start to make mistakes, because we do not know how
to deal with them. Martijn remarked that he must have done something
wrong, because I ended up with one large group.
Annabel played a game against Ton, and at the end of the evening,
a game against Wouter, a student that came by for the first time.
He had only played Go on the internet for about seven times. Annabel
lost with a few points, so his strength must also be around 22 kyu.
If he joins the club, I am no longer the weakest player, but it would
not surprise me if that is not for long.
Today, Li-Xia and I went into the city to
look for a small and handy vacumclear. We found one at Media Markt,
but we also decided to have a look at the computer section. After
some considerations, we decided to buy a new computer.
In the afternoon, we went to see the movie
Kingdom of Heaven at Alhambra theater.
The movie started at 15:30. It was very quiet. Besides us, there was
only one other man in the room. We picked chairs C-8 and C-9. Coming
Wednesday, I will be in chair C-7. When they showed the Star Wars III
trailer, I closed my eyes and made a huming noise as not to
see all the little spoilers. I nevertheless heard some things.
It is difficult to switch off your brain, especially if the
sounds are so loud. The movie was interesting to watch. It is interesting
to see how the "battle" between Christians and Muslims has been going on
for so long, and how Jerusalem has been a focual point throughout history.
Turning the living room inside out
Yesterday, I spend the whole day dealing with the security issues with
respect to our computers. On Saturday, I failed to connect the new
computer to the old one through our router/modem.
Yesterday, I discovered that this was caused by Zone Alarm on
ester being set to "Internet"
instead of "Trusted". This was the proper setting for when it was still
directly connected to the Internet. I changed it to "Trusted", but then
I had to make sure that the firewall in the router/modem was working properly.
A Security Scan did reveal some
problems. I spend the rest of the day dealing with this issues. I did
upload some new firmware into the router/modem. Today, we decided to put
the lixia, the new computer,
on the computer desk in the living room for the time being. The last days
it had been standing on the low table in the living room. (I borrowed
the monitor from
andy from the room of
Annabel). But we first needed to clear
the computer desk. In the past months it a large number of
video's had been accummulated. We decided
to move a part of these video's to the cupboard near the television, so
that it would be easier for Andy to access
them. And to move the rest upstairs to some place.
But then that cupboard also needed to be cleared. So within a few minutes the
living room turned into a mess and we spend the next four hours trying
to rearrange everything. We succeeded in doing this, but not without
creating some additional mess in the rest of the house.
When I read the story about the Piano man, I got the idea that the man might be a Savant, a highly
functional autist, who learned himself to play piano, but who is not able
to communicate in a normal way, or only to a select group of people. This
might also explain why all the lables were removed, as a type of obsessive
On the Dutch Youth News there
was an item on a mysterious chestnut disease that is spreading out over
the Netherlands and killing many trees. For some pictures of the symptoms
see the Dutch page "de werkgroup Aesculaap". I wonder whether out little
chestnut trees will be affected.
This evening, Li-Xia and I watched a
discussion program about the Referendum for the European Constitution
that will be held on June 1 in the Netherlands. I am more and more
becoming convinced that I should vote against the European Constitution
because I believe that Europe should not become a political union like
the United Stated of America. I don't want a United States of Europe.
Our government wants us to vote for such a consitution. They recently
invested a lot of money for a new campain, to make us change our mind,
now that the polls report a growing resistence against the European
Consitution. Almost daily some member of the government makes a bold
statement that something bad is going to happen to our country, would
we vote against the European Consitution. But even if the majority of
the people would vote against it, it is still the government that has
the last vote with respect to whether the Netherlands will agree with
the consititution or not. I believe that under the European Consititution
democracy will not be improved, because I believe it will result in an
even stronger concentration of power in Brussels (where the headquarters
of the European Union are), and it is known from history that any
substantial concentration of power reduces democracy. That is also why
I think that the USA is less democratic than the Netherlands, although
they have the right to vote their president and we do not have that
Too stressed to think? Researchers show stress is bad for the brain
Chronic stress can be harmful - to your health and also to your brain,
according to researchers at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. Their
findings, published in a recent issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology, show
increased stress hormones lead to memory impairment in the elderly and
learning difficulties in young adults.
Today, the news came that the grenade which was trown close
to President Bush while he made a speech on May 10 before more than
100.000 people in Tbilisi was active and not inactive as
reported before. It only did not explode because it first struck
a girl. If it would have exploded it would have killed many.
I was really surprised that President Bush gave a speech in
such a dangerous country near such a large cloud. Just days
before he visited the Netherlands to remember the american
soldiers that died during World War II. During that time
their were very strict security measurements, and he was
kept far away from any public. High roads were closed and
planes were forbidden to fly over the province where he was
staying. Many people complained about all the security
measurements that were taken. In the weeks before groups
of people even had tried to declare him an unwanted person
because his governement is not obeying the Geneva Convention
with respect to people held in Guantanamo Bay. We live in a
strange world indeed.
Tonight, I went to see
Star Wars: Episode III -
Revenge of the Sith in the Alhambra movie theater. I arrived early and was the first
person to enter the room when it opened twenty before eight.
I had seat 7 in row C (third from the back, downstairs).
About then minutes after eight, the owner of the theater climbed
on the stage before the screen and held a short speech, explaining
that this was the first digital projection of a movie and only one
of seven theaters in the Netherlands showing the movie with a
digital projector. He told us that they watched the movie last
night and that the lamb shutdown three times, but that they now
had a new lamb and that the problem would be solved. He also
explained that they would start with an introduction explaining
the reason behind the better quality of digital projection.
When we were about two minutes into the movie (no trailers were
shown), the screen became dark. About two minutes later they
started it again, repeating about 10 seconds. Luckily, it did
not happen again.
"Stress has become more commonplace and accepted in our everyday lives,"
says Sonia J. Lupien, PhD, lead author and director of the Laboratory of
Stress Research at the Douglas. "Many studies show the negative impact of
stress on physical health such as blood pressure, heart disease etc, but
few address the effects on mental health. Our studies look directly at
the long term effects of stress, or stress hormones, on brain function."
Lupien and colleagues measured the stress hormone, cortisol, in older
adults over a period of three to six years. Their findings showed that
individuals who had continuous high levels of cortisol, performed poorly
on memory tests and had a notably smaller hippocampus, the part of the
brain responsible for learning and memory.
"This study clearly shows the negative effects of long-term stress," says
Lupien. "This explains why some older adults show poor brain function while
others perform very well. Perhaps, through early interventions, we can
modify the cortisol levels and enhance brain function of the at-risk
Lupien and her research team also looked at the affects of stress on young
adults and children between the ages of six and fourteen. In young adults,
they showed that even an acute increase in cortisol can lead to reversible
memory impairments. In young children, they compared the cortisol levels of
children from low and high socioceconomic status (SES) and found children
from low SES had higher cortisol levels.
"Similar to our findings with the older adult, stress was an important
modulator of brain function in children as well," says Lupien. "All these
studies show that people of all ages are sensitive to stress, and we need
to acknowledge the importance of this factor on our mental health."
- Stress, memory and social support
- Sonia Lupien at Douglas Hospital Research Centre
- Sonia Lupien at McGrill
Today, I came across the intersting article
"Star Wars" despots vs. "Star Trek" populists by David Brin. When I think about it, I do not fully agree
with his arguments. I think that most people do not view Anakin
Skywaker (Darth Vader) as a kind of "Hitler", as the source of evil.
Rather they view him as someone who felt in the hands of the emperor
(the true "Hitler" of that time). Of course, one can conclude that it
was Anakin himself who submitted to the emperor, however, it is clearly
that this emperor made plans years a head to make Anakin his personal
servant and plotted him into submitting to him, knowing his greatest
According to the Dutch date notation, today is 20-05-2005.
Reason for many people to marry on this date. It is not
only twice the number 2005, but the date also read the
same in the mirror when using "digital numbers":
This is the first of such "digital" mirror dates.
Go tournament Apeldoorn
Today, Annabel and I went to a Go contest in Apeldoorn. We arrived there around twenty to eleven. The
contest started around half past eleven and consisted of five rounds. We both
won one out of five games. Annabel was asked by someone to take pictures with
his camera. Something she liked doing. Annabel played another three games
outside the tournament. For me it was the first tournament that I joined.
For Annabel it was her second tournament, but in a sense it is also her
first "real" tournament, because two weeks ago it was just
the one who won the most games that got the first price, while with this
tournament it was the person who came out strongest who one the first price.
The first price was won by Rudi, the strongest player of our club. Second
price went to a Chinese guy from Zwolle, who played his first tournament in
Official web page
with results and pictures
What are you doing here?
This afternoon, the teachers of Andy came to bring us a visit. They told
us that Andy's often askes in a very surprised manner: "What are you doing
here?". They thought it was very funny, and they even started using the
phrase amongh themselves.
Opportunity Mars Rover
I have been following the progress of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Rover
in the past year. At the moment Opportunity is stuck in a sand dune and
only slowly making progress with getting out. Today, I found an interesting
movie showing it progress. At the moment they are just reversing through
the track. And that is good. However, the rover also needs to get out of the
track again. I wonder whether they are going to succeed in doing this.
This evening, Annabel and I went to the Go club
to play Go. I played against Ton and we decided I would
start with seven stones ahead. After about twenty moves, he invaded a corner,
and it looked like he was going to live in it, and kill my group. I was ready
to resign. I had made a little cut earlier on, and decided to push at one of his
groups that surrounded my group and see what would happen. After about ten moves
I saved my group and started running. Then he took some risk, and I killed a
group with the group that he almost killed. Then he was considering to resign,
he told me later. However, I made some unnecessary moves, which alowed him to
gain some territory. About that time, some lady came over, asking us about
the rules. (She had seen the game being played in 'A Beautiful Mind'.) We
suggested that she would play with Annabel, who at that moment was still
playing against Taco. She played two games against Taco with a nine stone
handicap. She lost them with 19 and 14 points, which is a very nice result
if Taco had been playing strong, but I guess he played easy. Later she told
me that she thought that the tournament of last Sunday
helped her with playing better, and that she wanted more at tournaments
like this. After finished her last game, she played two games with the woman
on a 9x9 board. Both of them she lost. But the first because she let her win,
and the second with a few points. I won with a few points. Then I watched a
little with Rudi and Marcel finishing their game.
When I came outside this afternoon, I was hit by the heat. This is
the first hot day, this year. Tomorrow it is going to be hot again.
The forecast for Saturday says that we are going to get thunderstorms
and a drop in temperature.
Today, it is Li-Xia's birthday. It was also
the first tropical day of this year. Everywhere in the country, even
along the sea, the temperature was above 30 degrees Celsius.
The Frence have voted against the European Constitution.
I am planning to vote against it as well when we the Dutch
are going to vote next Wednesday. It looks like the Dutch
are also going to vote against it. At least the argument
that we are going to be the only country that is going to
vote against is not going to work anymore.
(read on below)
All polls indicate that the opposition against the European
Constitution is growing in the Netherlands, and that there
will be a clear NEE (NO). However, I am not always happen
with the reasons that people give why the vote against this
constitution. I feel that André Rouvoet from the
ChristianUnion has the best arguments against the
European Constitution. He is generally recognized as a good
politician. Last year he was elected as "best politician" of
the year by the press, and praised for his balanced view on
From a on-line poll that was filled in by 10,524 people (77.9% men),
61.5% still wants to vote against the European Constiution. 28.8%
votes yes, and 9.7% is still not sure what to vote. 88.5% feels that
our government should accept the result of this referendum. On the
question whether our government should step down in case of a No
the views are balanced. Reasons for people to vote against are
very broad. Many people vote no because they are against the
government. Many people also feel that the Netherlands should stay
the Netherlands. 48.9% is against the introduction of the Euro but
still 20.2% is in favour. 60% is against Turkey joining the European
Union. Strangly, only 32.6% feels that the European Parlement should
get more power. 50% precent things that the economical situation will
not improve when the constitution is accepted. More than 70% feels
that we will have to paying more to Brussels. And almost 60% feels
that this constitution is coming to early.
This months interesting links
April 2005 |