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Dairy, July 2006


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Saturday, July 1, 2006

Skûtjesilen

Just like two years ago, we went with all my colleagues to in Elahuizen, a small village in Friesland, to go sailing on the Fluessen lake. While we drove there, we got lost, because we did not know the exact address. So our TomTom send us to the wrong direction. We phoned our colleagues for the correct address, and when we had entered it, the TomTom told us to turn left into a small gravel road. After some hesitation, we decided to follow it. About 50 meter the gravel road turned to the right, and there was a cart track going straight. When we followed the gravel road, it became clear that the TomTom wanted us to take the cart track. The cart track was slightly going up hill, so we could not see where it was going. We all started to laugh as it was so funny that the TomTom was suggesting this road. We decided just to give it a try, and soon we discovered that it lead to a main road. On that road there was a man staring at us, probably thinking that we must be some city people driving around with a TomTom.

We were the last to arrive at water sport center. Soon after we had finished our apple pie with cream, we were going to leave. This time we had two boats. I decided to go on the Eelkje II with captain Rindert. All of us got a new cap, a blue one this time. The wind was less strong than two years ago, around 3 to 4 Beaufour. We quickly got out of the harbour, and I decided to help with the jib (foresail) again. Piet, the captains helper, was helping us. He has his own ship, which also joins in the IFKS races. He thinks that although Rindert is not sailing in the races now, he probably will be in the future. We had to hold on to the clew line of the jib because with the hot weather we were having, there was a change for turning winds, which could suddenly cause a lot of wind in the sails. The kind of boats we are sailing are rather instabile because they have a flat bottom that only goes about 35 cm (a feet) into the water.

On the water we lost a buoy, and we had to make a round to collect it. We missed it the first time, and we had to make another round, but then it was suddenly gone. Soon we noticed that some other little boat had picked it up. We quickly went into pursuit, and after some shouting, the buoy dropped of the boat and we were able to collect it. (It probably was just a game that these guys in the other boat took the buoy.)

Around two o'clock we arrived in the harbour of Gaastmeer and had a simple lunch. In the afternoon we did not sail much. We dropped the anchor close to an island. I was the first to jump into the water. (picture.) Some others also came in to the water, which had a very nice temperature. I swam around the boat. When some of the people from the other boat, which was anchored about 30 meters away, discovered that we still had amply supply of beer they jumped into the water and swam to our boat. I think, I was the one who spend most of the time in the water. I thought about swimming under the boat, and after I had asked Rindert and Piet if it was safe, I gave it a try. It was quite easy, and I did it three times. Nobody else dared to follow my example.

Around five o'clock, we were back in the harbour, and we were offered a herring on arrival. We sat down in the shadow and later we were served a barbeque. It was around eight o'clock when we went home.

(follow-up)


Monday, July 3, 2006

LR-maze

This morning, while biking to my office, I was thinking about finding a universal recepie for arriving at the exit of a given LR-mazes. This made me think about finding the recepie that, no matter where you start in an LR-maze, brings you to every possible location. Again you can think about finding the shortest and the fastest recipe.

(follow-up)

Britons see US as vulgar empire builder

Quote: I think that many other people in the Netherlands and all around the world, share this opinion. But we should remember that this can be said of any empire in the history, including the British Empire at its height.


Tuesday, July 4, 2006

School trip

Today, Annabel went on a school trip to the All Weather Zoo in Munster.


Wednesday, July 5, 2006

LR-maze (cont'd)

Today, I finished an implementation of the LR-maze solution finder, which works with a working set. You start with a working set that consist of only the initial solution and every time you calculate the working set for the next step by adding (partial) solutions for both directions and sort these based on a certain cost function. To prevent the exponentional explosion, you reduce this set to a fixed size if it gets too big, by taking only the best (partial) solutions. (source code.)

(follow-up)

Amsterdam Beijing rally

Today, I discovered that the Amsterdam - Beijing Classic Car Endurance Rally 2006 will pass through on August 2 and 3 through Urumqi when we are there. I think that the cars will be traveling quite close to where we live on August 3 when they leave for Hami. I will definitely try to see this event. Maybe we should bring a small Dutch flag.

However, it is possible that this rally will be cancelled due to financial problems. It appears that the organizers were not able to raise sufficient support but at the same time are giving themselves a large payment. It looks like the equipes already have paid 29,000 € but might be forced to pay another 31,000 €.

Travel insurance

This evening, I arrange our travel insurance online for our trip to China. I got an email with the insurance policy as a PDF file with the request to print it out. Funny how this goes nowadays. But if you think about it, it is only the policy number that really counts.

Winning from Marcel

This evening, Annabel and I went to the university to play Go. Although the bar was not closed yet, there was no service. Annabel went to get some drinks from our car. Some were a little warm, but for the rest it was okay. Taco played against Rudi, and Marcel played simulatiously against Annabel and me. I started with an eight stone advance. I won the game with 35 against 31 points. Annabel was given nine stone in advance. She lost with about 75 points, but that is not too bad for her.


Thursday, July 6, 2006

Trip to China

Today, Li-Xia phoned with her mother. Her mother told her that she had found some old documents about her, like school diplomas and such. Her mother also told that they know of some Go club. Li-Xia and decided how much formulea we have to order for Andy, and she went to order it.


Saturday, July 8, 2006

Swimming and more media

This morning, Li-Xia and I went swimming. Both Annabel and Andy were staying with others. Although we both swim almost every week, Li-Xia more than I, it has been a very long time ago that we swam together. We went in three times. Li-Xia tried the water-slide for the first time in her life. She felt it was okay, but did not feel she wanted to try it again this time, because she found it a little too excited.

Afterwards, we went into the city. We looked around the city and decided to buy a Freecom 80 Gbyte 2.5 inch external hard drive with USB 2.0 connector for € 119.95. We also bought a 2 Gbyte pen drive from Transcend, model JF V30.


Sunday, July 9, 2006

Making a list

This afternoon, Li-Xia and I tried to make a list of all the things to bring. We used a Dutch web site as a starting point for our list. I have to admit, that making a list proved to be more work than I had expected. We did find some items that we should not forget and we made a little shopping lists. Suddenly, it seems that the two weeks that are left before we leave are rather short. Luckily, I did finish creating the last DVD. In total, I created 23 DVD, each with about eighty minutes of film. That makes a total of about 31 hours of material.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Medicines

Today, Li-Xia went to the drugstore to get the medicine to make Andy dizzy during the flight if that would be needed. She also got some Imodium and Betadine. She also got medicine passports for Andy and her.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Chinese money

This evening, when I was sorting out all our mail of the past year, I also got the Chinese money that we kept upstairs. It turned out it was a little more than 3000 Yuan, about € 300. We are going to bring all of it with us (except for some old small bills that we want to keep) and use it when we are staying there. I believe it is not possible to exchanges Chinese Yuan to some other currency outside of China. Which means that those Yuan are rather worthless here in the Netherlands.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Visting Ton

This evening, Annabel and I, visited Ton and his children to play Go. (We cannot play at the university because the building we always play, is closed over the summer.) I had not seen Ton for a while, because he had been on a holiday. Sara and Titus, his children, stayed in America in the past year and had just returned a few weeks ago. Especially, Sara had changed a lot. Ton and I started a game where I was given a six stone advance. Annabel started to play against Titus. They played two games, both of which Annabel won. Near the end of the game our game, Ton was getting behind, but when I accidently (because I forgot the play the proper response) killed one of his little corner groups, he resigned. He said that I would easy defeat him, if I would attack him more. So, I decided to aggresively attack him in the second game, where I was given a five stone advance. It was a completely different game. Early in the game, I already lost some stones, and in the end I lost with 37 points. Annabel played with Titus upstairs. Then she played one final game against Sara, where Sara got a two stone advance. It was a long time ago she played. She gave up when she felt she was going to lose. Titus finished the game, which Annabel again won. It was around half past ten that Annabel and I said goodbey, and biked home. It will be at least another six weeks before we will see Ton again, and maybe much longer before we see Sara and Titus again.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Ticket numbers for flight HU 7145

Today, I received an email from my family-in-law written in Chinese. And although I cannot read it, I am pretty sure that it contains the ticket numbers of our tickets for our flight on July 25 from Beijing to Urumqi.

Wrong tickets!

At home, I showed Li-Xia the email and she suggested that we should print it out. We discussed which part of it we should print-out and then suddenly I realize that the date of the tickets is July 24, one day too early. (The date was written with Chinese numbers, that is why I did not see it this afternoon). I immediately asked Li-Xia to verify this with her family. After some tries (it is already late at night in Xinjiang), she managed to get her sister on the telephone. And yes, they booked the tickets for July 24. It is not clear, who is to blame. Li-Xia lately often is confused about the dates. She did tell her mother very clearly, shortly after we booked our flights. But then there was also some confusion about who was going to buy the tickets, and I am afraid that show how, it was forgotten we only arrived on Tuesday, July 25 in Beijing. It is not clear whether it will be possible to get a refund on the tickets or change the date. Probably we have to buy new tickets. Maybe it will not be possible to buy tickets for that Tuesday, and most likely we will be forced to stay in Beijing some time. But we will have to stay at least one night in Beijing on the way back, which means additional traveling with suitcases to Beijing or stay at an expensive hotel at the airport. Luckily, we found out now, because if we would only have found out this when we were standing at the check-in counter, we would have had a very big problem.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Four o'clock

We set our alarm at four o'clock, and went downstairs where Li-Xia phoned with her mother. Her sister had not slept very well last night and had informed her mother early in the morning. They immediately contacted Li-Xia's sister-in-law, who told them that you have the right to change the ticket once without additional costs, and that she would ask a friend who works with a travel agency to change the tickets.

Eight o'clock

At eight o'clock we phoned them again. The had already changed the tickets to the next day, July 25, for the same flight, but still needed some time to make absolutely sure that it was done correctly.

Traveling schedule

Around ten o'clock, Li-Xia phoned with her brother, and hear that is was now sure that the tickets have been changed to the flight on July 25. Everything is okay.

This evening, Li-Xia and I spend some time talking through our traveling schedule for July 24-25 also for calculating how much food we need to bring for Andy. We also thought about some other things, for example, with respect to our lugage and in


Monday, July 17, 2006

Talking with KLM CARES

During lunch time, I phoned with KLM CARES to ask if everything was okay with respect to our flight next week and the information that I send to them. I was told that everything was okay and that we could bring 20 Kg extra lugage. When I said that we had to bring this as carry-on bagage, she told me that we can just check it in as normal bagage because they can take care that the bagage department does not get too cold. We are flying with a boeing 747-400, just like ten years ago. It does not have private TV screens. She also made reservations for us on chairs A, B, C, D, and E, meaning three chairs on the side and two in the middle. I hope that these chairs will be in a favourable location with respect to the large TV screens in the plane.

Still, I wonder whether we should check-in the food of Andy, because if our suitcases gets lost, we have a problem. And we also have the internal flight inside China the next day. And although it is only a four hour flight, the food may still get too cold. And there is also the problem of pressure, because the packs in which the food is store contain quite an amount of air. I am confused about what we should do.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Haircut

During lunch time, Annabel phoned to tell me that she had cut some more of her hair. Yesterday evening, she suddenly started to talk about having a haircut, because she wanted to have her hair in layers. The wanted to go to a haircut shop. We told her that it was okay, if she would pay for it herself. For many years, Li-Xia has been cutting our hair. Then she told us that you could do it yourself if you would held your head down. We agreed, although I found it a little bit a pity that she wanted to cut her nice long hair, and she went upstairs to wash her hair. When she came downstairs, Li-Xia cut her hair while she was standing bend forward with her head down. Today, I hear that at the moment layer haircuts are rather popular.

Somehow, I find it a pity that she does not want to have very long hair anymore. But on the otherhand it shows that she becoming more and more aware of her appearance, something that is quite normal for a girl her age.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Second hottest day

Today, it was the second hottest day in the history of the KNMI with a temperature of 35.6 degrees Celsius in De Bilt. The highest temperature ever measured in De Bilt is 38.8 degrees on June 27, 1947. During the afternoon, I followed the temperature development, and I downloaded many of the temperature gradient graphs. At one point the graphs started to show white areas in the most Southern parts of the country, because there were only colours available for temperatures up to 36 degrees. The highest temperature measured was 36.9 degrees in Arcen.

Eibergen

This evening, Annabel and I, went to Eibergen to play Go at Marcel's place. When we arrived Rudi, Araldo and Taco were already there. I drank some Cactus flavoured tea for the first time in my life. Araldo invited Annabel for a game using the ING rules where each player is given 180 stones and where you fill up your territorium at the end with your stones to count who has won. Annabel was given nine stones ahead and she lost with five points. Not too bad at all. Marcel played with Taco, so I was left with Rudi to play with. I was given a nine stone advance. I lost one of my corner groups and lost with 74 against 31 points.

When we arrived home, the street lights were off, and Li-Xia told that there had been a short break in the electricity causing the computer to reset.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Three nights

This morning, I asked Andy how many night we have to sleep before we go to China and he said: "Three". Next I asked him how many hours we had to fly, and he answered: "Ten". Then I asked him how many hours we had to fly to Urumqi, and he replied: "Three". I told him that I had told him wrong, and that it was actually four hours. These kind of things he can remember very well. He is never mistaken about which day it is. He also knew that my mother is arriving today. She will stay with us the coming days.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Online check-in

This morning, around 12 past 11, it was finally possible to check-in. I entered all our information and then was given an option to select the seats. They had already been reserved as the seats 39A to 39E. (The seats marked with red in the image shown on the right.) This was done last Monday by the lady from KLM CARES. When I checked to see if there were better seats available, I discovered that there were almost no empty seats available, and nowhere more than four in a row. I guess that many people already checked-in by telephone. Luckily, I phoned on Monday, otherwise we might have ended-up having to sit seperately from each other.

When I wanted to print out our boarding passes, it turned out that the printer was out of inkt. Finally, I drove to my office to have the boarding passes printed. Of course, we also could have got them at the airport, but only if we would have gone through the normal check-in procedure.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Traveling to Beijing

This morning, we got up at seven o'clock. Around half past nine we left from home and took the city bus to the train station, where we arrived shortly after ten. We took the train to Schiphol from 10:27, which arrived around a quarter to one. We only had to check in our bagage. (We got a map of the airport.) Around half past one, we sat down on some chairs near a place where the children could play. Two hours later, we walked to gate F2, where there was still no plane to be seen. Shortly after we arrived there, we found out that our plane, which was to leave at 17:10, was delayed until 19:00. At 17:25, the plane, 'city of Karachi' PH-BFK, a Boeing 747-406M arrived at the gate. (Picture of the plane.) We took of at 19:41.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Traveling to Urumqi

This morning, around 10:25 Beijing Time, we arrived in Beijing. Andy was in a very bad mood, and I had to carry him till the passport check, where we arrived at 11:15. Entering China went rather smooth. We went to the office of Hainan Airlines to collect our tickets, but they told us we could immediately check-in. But when we checked in at counter H03, we were told that we did not have any tickets. It looked that something very seriously had gone wrong, probably due to the change last week. We went back to the ticket-office of Hainan Air and after some talking the admitted that they had made a mistake. We received our ticket but not after we signed some kind of form stating that we would not change the tickets are again or something like that. We flew with the B-5139, a Boeing 737-84P. Official departure time was 13:40, but because of three passangers being late, we only took-off at 14:30. We all were very tired during the flight. The in-flight magazine, Expression No 7, 2006, vol 66, contained nine pages about Martin Fowler talking about Agile software development methods. We landed in Urumqi at 18:18. Just before seven we arrived at the home of Li-Xia's family. (Google Earth pin.) Soon dinner was served (picture).


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bookshop

This is our second day in Urumqi, Xinjiang, P.R. of China. This afternoon, my mother, Annabel and I went to a large bookshop not far from the apparments of our family where we are staying at. What us surprised us immediately, where the large number of Chinese people sitting on the ground and reading books. This was not looking through a book, but really reading. In a sense it felt more like being in a library than a bookshop. On the second floor there was a whole section for chilren and my mother and Annabel looked around there, while I looked for some map. Soon I found a map of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. After asking a Chinese man who spook a little English, I also found a book with many maps of Xinjiang. I decided to buy both. When I found my mother and Annabel again, Annabel was painting some white doll, which costed only one Euro. My mother and I looked for some books for Andy. We found three and because Annabel was painting, I decided to look around a little more. Under most signs there was also an English translation, sometimes with funny mistakes due to copying errors, such as a sign that said "Humoe / Cartoons". I found some sign saying Weiqi (which is Chinese for Go) and below it there were a lot of books about Go. I bought one book with 1000 life-and-death problems, at least that is what I guessed. When I looked at it later, I discovered that these were rather hard problems, maybe a little over my head. But anyway, it only costed 17 Yuan (about € 1.70).

When Annabel was almost ready with her painting, there was a Chinese woman who asked us in perfect English whether we spoke English. It turned out that she lived in Canade and just like us had come back to Urumqi to she her family. She also happened to work at the geology and mining department just like Li-Xia and her family. She also arrived on Tuesday from Beijing, but with one flight later. She had two daughters, the oldest being ten.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Playing Go against Xiao Zhong

This morning, Mrs. Guo, a good friend of Li-Xia's mother, visited us. She brought some gifts with her, including a set of Chinese Go stones, which also included a board printed on blue thin plastic foil folded in one of the box. The black stones looked grey from he dust that was still on them. Xiao Zhong wanted to a game of Go with me, but I suggested he play against Annabel with a nine stone handicap. But because Annabel was still rather tired, she did not play very well. And after about twenty move she lost interest and I suggested that I should take her place. In the end I won from Xiao Zhong. I think we are about the same strength. The husband of the woman that visited us, also is Go and is one of the best players of the whole unit. Maybe I should play him once to see how strong he is.

Red mountain

Around twelve o'clock we decided to visit the Red Mountain in the center of the city. Xiao-Zhong, my mother, Li-Xia, Annabel, Andy, and I went. We climbed the mountain and the tower on top of it. Then we walked to the cliff, where I took this picture of Annabel and the city in the back ground.

Dinner at a restaurant

In the evening, we were invited by the cousins and nieces of Li-Xia's mother to attend a dinner in a restaurant. They had reserved a room at the restaurant. The room had a large television with VCD player. It also contained a round table with a glass rotating disk (picture).


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Puzzle game

A few days ago, Annabel got a puzzle game from Xiao-Xia, her Chinese aunt. The puzzle consists of 35 pieces made out of two to five squares that need to be fit inside a rectangle of ten bij fifteen. There are eight different types of pieces and of each type there are five copies. (To the right the initial solution is shown.) The different types of pieces are: Because of the small pieces it is relatively easy to put all the pieces in the puzzle, so, I asked myself if it would be possible to put the pieces in the puzzle in such a way that all pieces of the same type touch each other. Just after dinner, I found a solution. When Xuan-Xuan, my Chinese cousin, came home and had dinner, I asked him to find a solution. He did find one, and within the hour he found another two solutions. Now, Annabel also became interested and after some time she did find a solution, and then went on to find another nine solutions till the end of the evening. She was getting better and better.

(follow-up)


Monday, July 31, 2006

Losing from Mr. Wu

This evening, the wife of Mr. Wu, and good friend of my mother-in-law, came to catch me to play Go. Together with her, I went back to her appartment where I met with Mr. Nai-Yuang Wu. He already had set the board (the same board printed on blue plastic sheet, that I got from them) and the stones on a round table in front of the open window. It had been very hot that day, and still gushes of warm air would blow through the window into the room.

We started a game where I played with black. When he beat some of my stone and put then back with my stones, I understood that we were playing according to the Chinese rules. At one point it looked like he was ahead of me, but I performed a succesful invasion in his territorium. At the end of the game, her removed all dead stones and we started to count my empty territorium. Next he started to count my stones and arrived at a total of 181. That meant he won with 3 points (because 361 - 181 + 4 = 184). We agreed to play another game. I soon lost a group of stones in a corner because I decided to perform a cut, where I should have connected my stones. We continues playing a little quicker. I felt that the outcome would have been rather equal, if I would not have lost the corner. I guess he is just a little stronger than me, but maybe not as strong as Ton.


This months interesting links


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