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Diary, December 1995

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Friday, December 1, 1995

For some reason I seem to be in a rather depressed mood. Is this the result of being too tired? I think so, coughing all those nights does not give you the proper rest.

I will have to go home in a few minutes. Added a new quote to Susan's white board saying:

I started listing to the CD `The Instruments of Classical Music: The Organ'. A rather obscure CD that we bought in Beijing, which was produced in L.A., but originating from a German company, containing recordings from East-European people. I starts with `Toccata in D minor' by Bach.

Found a funny quote in the signature of Hugh Bothwell:

Monday, December 4, 1995

This morning, I brought
Annabel to the day-care for the first time in her life. It's now three o'clock, and they have not called me yet, so it seems it is going nice. I wonder how she is going to react when I will get het at the end of the afternoon. Lately, she has become shy in front of strangers again.


It is also the first day that Li-Xia works again, after Annabel was born. She started working at the company that I used to work at, before I started working here at the university.

Last Friday we went to a party of the company, because it existed for 8 years. We were invited because Li-Xia officially started working at December the first! I told one of my former bosses that I might be able to crack the DWG format for Release 13. I might give it a try during the Christmas break.

A funny workshop on Computational Humour, which is not a joke:


IWCH '96

International Workshop on Computational Humor

"Automatic Interpretation & Generation of Verbal Humor"

Enschede, the Netherlands Department of Computer Science University of Twente September 11-14, 1996

Preliminary Announcement and Call for Papers

IWCH'96 aims at bringing together research results in the area of computational humor, with an emphasis on the computational interpretation and generation of verbal humor. There are two main reasons to have a workshop in this research area.

One of the obvious reasons is that there are aspects of human behaviour that more or less seem to evade a computational treatment. Creativity has been given some treatment, but mostly in an artificial context of problem solving, not of behavior or language use. Other aspects of human behavior, e.g. emotions, have only found superficial (computational) attention, for example in research projects in which facial expressions are interpreted or generated. One may ask what 'intelligence' is required for skilful use of humor and how attempts to model humor can contribute to modelling intelligence. One may also ask what role humor can play in making systems look more intelligent, for example in a Turing test.

A second reason is that in artificial intelligence and natural language research modest results emerge in modelling co- operative behaviour, disagreement and ironic language use. In recent years we also have seen a number of research results on humor that make starts to a computational treatment or that will probably underlie a future computational treatment of the topic. Especially in (non- computational) linguistics and cognitive psychology work is becoming more and more formal and it makes sense to attempt to implement the proposed models, with the hope of experimenting with them computationally.

One assumption that underlies the organisation of this workshop is that in future human-machine interaction, humans will demand a naturalness and effectiveness that requires also the incorporation of models of probably all human cognitive capabilities, including the handling of humor. Stimulating the interaction between computer science (language technology) and computational humor research is one of the aims of this workshop. Apart from human-machine communication, robotics, automatic text interpretation and machine translation are other areas that also will profit from research on computational humor.

In addition to some invited papers there will be presentations of a selected number of submitted papers. The Workshop Organizers invite submissions of original papers and panel or demonstration outlines to this workshop.


Major topics of interest include, but are not restricted, to the following:
  • (computational) theories of humor, irony and sarcasm
  • the (possible) role of humor in human-machine interaction
  • machine translation and verbal humor
  • discourse analysis and humorous exchanges
  • semantics and pragmatics of humorous language
  • semiotics of humor
  • connectionist approaches to humor

Program Committee:

Chairman: Anton Nijholt, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Salvatore Attardo, Youngstown, USA
Douglas Hofstadter, Indiana University, USA
Franciska de Jong, Twente, Netherlands
Victor Raskin, Purdue University, USA
Graeme Ritchie, Edinburgh, Scotland
Oliviero Stock, Italy; chairman ACL
Akira Utsumi, Yokohama, Japan

Invited Papers will be given by:

Salvatore Attardo (Youngstown, USA)
Carmen Curco (London, UK)
Mlchal Ephrat (Haifa, Israel)
Rachel Giora (Tel Aviv, Israel)
Douglas Hofstadter (Bloomington, USA)
Bruce Katz (Sussex, UK)
Victor Raskin (W. Lafayette, USA)
Graeme Ritchie/Kim Binsted (Edinburgh, UK)
Akira Utsumi (Yokohama, Japan)
Judith Weiner (USA)


The proceedings of the workshop will be available at the workshop. It is planned to have a selection of the papers (after a second process of reviewing) in a book published by a major publishing company.

Workshop Format:

The workshop will be four days long, from Wednesday to Saturday, September 11-14, and will include invited talks and paper presentations. Some special events, including a panel discussion and an evening program, are in preparation.

Instruction to Authors:

The Workshop Organizers invite submission of original papers (4 copies with a maximum of 15 pages) and panel proposals to IWCH'96. Papers will be reviewed by the members of the program committee. After the reviewing process authors of accepted papers will receive an 'Instruction for Authors'. To contribute, please submit to the program committee chairman:
prof.dr. A. Nijholt
University of Twente
Department of Computer Science
PO Box 217
7500 AE Enschede, Netherlands
tel: +31-53-4893740
fax: +31-53-4893503

Important Dates in 1996:

April 15: Deadline for paper submission
May 15: Notification of acceptance
July 15: Final paper due


Full details of registration will become available in the Spring of 1996. Announcements will appear in newsgroups, mailing lists and (electronic) newsletters. IWCH will also maintain WWW pages with up to date information about the workshop.

Tuesday, December 5, 1995

I found several copies of the
book `Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert Pirsig on the net. [1, 2, 3, and 4] These must be illegal, as it seems unlikely that the book is not copyrighted anymore. (follow-up) Brad Cox has a collection of quotes from the book on Quality. His Middle of Nowhere is also worth visiting.

Found lucret-uh's Page. A very outspoken page with a interesting picture of her, with a mirror on it.

The First Snow

Susan came to look in my office, to check whether it was only from her office that she could see the very thin snow, floating in the air outside.


The Dutch college students are the tallest in the world

When I went to the canteen to get my daily glass of milk, I encountered a group of female students. It struck me that most of them were taller then me, some even a lot taller. I am 176 cm (= 68.75 inches = 5 feet 8.75) tall, which is rather small for Dutch standards.

Wednesday, December 6, 1995

Yes, I know, I did not write a single useful sentence in my diary today. Guess it must have been a boring day. I did some work on my
decompiler page.

Thursday, December 7, 1995

Today Craig Massey <> (from OzEmail Pty Ltd - Australia) spammed a message about the book
The Oracle of Man in many newsgroups. The author says things like: "I am stating that it will eventually be possible to retain our conscious, living intelligence, separate from our human physical bodies." (namely by transferring it to a computer), and "I believe that computers are presently the second most intelligent form on the planet, but I am not sure for how long it will remain in that position."

This is just some naive AI-kind-of babble, that I thought had become extinct a long time ago. I would say that an average computer still is on the level of a bee.


Last week I brought some packages of instant soup to my office to try it out. I now have discovered that I can easily make two cups of soup from one bag, as the taste of the one bag per cup soup is rather strong. The only problem is determining what is the half of the contents of a bag.

Data or information

The internet was designed to exchange information, but because large parts do not have any moderation, most of the `information' should be regarded as `data'.
I am also afraid that many surfers might develop an `information'-illness, or should I say `data'-illness, which has symptoms like: loss sense for reality, flaming, and depression.


It appears we are cut-off from the Internet for the moment. And that happens during my break. (The fact that I mention these facts, says a lot about myself.)

I have collected a total of 621 URL's in my WWW pages. I made myself two counters for two of my pages:

Be blessed

means `blessed', and is the first character for the name `Frans'.


she has gone to the day-care for the second time in her life. She was crying when I left. When I waved to her, she waved back, but also started to cry. She must have remembered last Monday's experience (the first time). She was not very happy when I got her. She did not like the drinks they gave here, and on top of that her mother came in late, after we had returned home.

But a stunning thing was, that we both noticed that her walking style had improved so much, showing a lot more self-confidence. She also did a lot more investigating. (follow-up)

Friday, December 8, 1995

First `real' snow

Yesterday evening, the first real snow felt, just about 1 cm (2/5 inch, for the non-metric readers). Annabel liked the snow, until she tried to touch it, and felt forward. She immediately started crying, and did not want to stand in the snow anymore.

Found Rachel's Home Page.

Monday, December 11, 1995

Getting the shakes

Last Saturday night I did not feel very well, so I got into bed and started reading the book
'Winnie-the-Pooh on Problem Solving'. Then at some point, I had got some strange hot/cold feeling, it was time to go to sleep, which meant I had to go out of bed to do some essential before-going-to-sleep preparations. But as soon as I got out of bed, I started shaking uncontrollable, from cold. I managed to do everything and get into bed again, but it was a funny experience. (It did not happen again.)

Waking-up early in the morning

This morning, I woke-up while dreaming about having to
preach in church, without having prepared anything, nor having picked a topic. But while I was adjusting the microphone (in my dream) I decided it to be about: `Revival'. After I woke-up (and still being in a dream-state), I recalled two scripture parts (Ezra (I thought, but it was Nehemiah 8:9) and Acts 2:37-41) that might fit, and started to outline my preaching. I also thought how I could explain the meaning of the word 'opwekking' (the Dutch for revival). Then I also had to think of 'Removing the Veil', Chapter 3 of The Pursuit of God.


This morning
Annabel started screaming rather hysterical, once I got inside her room at the day-care centre. This is definitely worse then last Thursday. For a moment I was afraid that it was because she did not feel so well, she had been sick last Saturday night, and I thought about taking her home. But immediately, I realized that taking her home would only make it worse the next time. Going away as quickly as possible was the best solution. Later on, Li-Xia phoned them, and she told me that she was playing happily and enjoying herself.


Susan brought a `Young Activities Balloon Kit' from `Galt Toys' with her this morning. It was a left-over from a party she had. I made the mouse this morning. The last sentence in the `Step by Step Guide' says: Your imagination is the only limit. I just completed blowing one of the extra long balloons, made some twists in it, and attached it to Rolf's door.

Just before Rolf came back from his teaching, I discovered there was also a Bee in the Guide, so I quickly changed the Mouse into a Bee, and stuck it with some tape on his door. I wanted to keep the Bee, but I thought the `Snake' was a little out of place, so, I took it away.

Tuesday, December 12, 1995

A very boring day, in a sense. Did not have a writing mode, but I was in a very funny mood, probably caused by me still being a bit ill.

I put the snake balloon in a cup on my desk. One end is above my monitor and slightly moving all the time, because of the rising hot air.

Working at home

When I am writing this I am sitting at home in what we call the reading room (because of all the books that are there). I am sitting in the dark as not to wake-up Annabel, who sleeps next door. The doors have a small window above them. And I have put on my coat, because it is a little cold. On my head there are headphones, and I listen to the sound track of `Shadowlands'. Li-Xia is taking a shower, to wash her hair. Because she has rather long hair, it takes a long time to dry, which means that washing them always requires some planning. A long time ago she used to have hair that reached until her knees. Currently, it is far from being that long.

Wednesday, December 13, 1995

I found a link related to TM (that is Trancedential Meditation, not Twente-Milano, the database specification language that I work with) about it being a

Today there is a symposium with the title `Mission to Mars'. The posters mentioned an URL, but is not working.

Dean & Laura VanDruff have some good things to say. I found this through the Kingdom Surf.

Thursday, December 14, 1995

This diary more and more gets the form of `A Netsurfers Diary'.

M. Letizia Jaccheri

Her Curriculum Vitae in Italian. She also has an old picture. She leads the E3 project, which in their bookmarks page, have a link to the TransCoop Resources page.

Wednesday, December 20, 1995

I have had some kind of cold again in the past days.

Across the country

Li-Xia and I drove to the other side of the country and back, to get her (a) new Chinese passport. The Chinese ambassady is in The Hague. Her new passport is signed by the Chinese ambassador in the Netherlands. We stopped half-way the country to drop Annabel with my parent. To drive across the country (from east to west) only takes two and half hour (at an average speed of 120 Km per hour). This is outside rush hours of course.

Wet snow

Today it has been snowing since early morning. But it is wet snow, which means that it melt as soon as it hits the ground. In Holland we get a lot of wet snow. Usually we need clear skies for it to become really cold. When it snows, it is usually warm moisture air coming from the Atlantic. Snow that lasts for more than a few days is a very rare phenonema.

Today's findings:

Thursday, December 21, 1995

A frozen car

The combination of
fog and freezing is always interesting. This morning, I found the locks and doors of my car frozen. After some trying I could open the trunk door of my Opel Kadett, and after this open the the back doors (it is a 5-door car), but the front doors didn't want to open. So, I climbed to the driver seat, to start the engine, and by doing so, torn my coat. Then I climbed back and started to remove the ice from the windows. Finally, I ran upstairs to get the other key, and managed to open the locks of the front doors from the outside. I am definitely going to find myself a lock heating tool. This is not going to happen to me again.

Progress in Software Development

The last days I looked in the book
Information, which contains preprints of the articles of the Scientific America issue of September 1966. That is almost 30 year old. It was interesting to read this book. I was impressed by some of the things that were achieved at this time. But I also have to conclude that Software Development is at a much lower speed then Hardware Development.

Friday, December 22, 1995

On the rapid computation of various polylogarithmic constants, a paper by David Bailey, Peter Borwein and Simon Plouffe.

I did a quick HTML-ization of some documentation about the navigation system used in the Apollo space crafts.

A child is easily freighted

Beware of frightening your child for fun, it might have lasting consequences. This is what I learned yesterday. I already knew that Annabel did not like the sound of the water running out of her bath, when she was in it. Annabel had started liking to sit in her bath so much, that she did want to go out it anymore. So, the other day, I though I had a good way of getting her out, and pulled the plug while she was happily playing at the time when she had to go out. Of course, she started screaming and wanted to go out. But from now on she does not like to sit in the bath at all! I hope she will get over to it soon, but I know, I never should do it again, as this would only enforce her fear.


First Christmas Day, December 25, 1995

The dinner

We had not planned anything for the Christmas dinner. For many people this is one of the most important dinners in the year. But somehow I do not like all this, because it seems to have to do so less with what Christmas is all about. (We also did not go to the special Christmas services, but that was also because of
Li-Xia having fever.)

So, around dinner time, I started looking around the cupboards in the kitchen, and found a box of lasagna wafers (or what ever you call them). There was some recipe on the back, and I concluded that we had most of the ingredients. I took: 2 unions, one thin piece of leek, one big carrot, and a piece of brocolli. And, of course, Li-Xia gave me some meat and tomatoes.

I did the cooking in my usual style: doing every thing by feeling and tasting, while turning the kitchen into a mess. The lasagna turned out a little too dry, but the taste was okay.

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