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Diary, July 1999


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Monday, July 5, 1999

Memory

Last Saturday while waiting in line with McD, I search my wallet for some money, and only found a one hundred guilder bill. This gave me the strange feeling that there was some money missing. I tried to recall all those moments when I bought something that morning. I was a little amazed about all the tiny details that came to my mind. Strange how you can go back in your mind, and recall events that you did not consciously tried to memorize.

After having thought about it, the only leak I could discover was when I bought bread at the open market. I was sure, that at one point on Friday evening, I had two one hundred guilder bills. I was quite sure that the first thing I did was buying the bread. I remembered clearly that I got two ten guilder bills back, when I bought the bread, because I recalled having them still in my hand after I had put my wallet in my pocket. (I often make this mistake: I hold the bills in one hand, put the coins in wallet, and then putting the wallet in my pocket, forgetting the bills in my other hand.) I bought bread for 4.60, which means I got change for 25 guilders. There was no memory of receiving a 25 bill as well, and no memory of having it spend afterwards. I faintly remembered that when I looked for some money while standing at the stand, I was a little surprised seeing the fifty guilder bill at first, because I did not immediately remember that I had bought something for 49.95 later that evening.

But yet, I was not absolutely sure, I had given the girl serving me a fifty guilder bill, and also not that only got 20.40 for change. I could remember spending the one ten guilder bill for four books at 'De Slegte' bookshop, and the other ten guilder bill for the cup I had when I was sitting outside a cafe while feeding Andy.

I talked it over with Li-Xia, and she told me that Friday evening she had seen me put a fifty guilder bill in my wallet, because she wanted to know for sure, how much the things costed we had bought.

Of course, I went back to the bread stand, and when the girl saw me, her first response was: `Did you forget something'. Then I told her that I though that I did not get enough change back. She immediately replied that I had given her a 25 guilder bill. She also exactly remembered what I bought, and how much it costed, and this after having served at least 50 customers (I guess) since I bought bread two hours before. Honestly to say, this did not surprise me, as I already got the impression that she is a very smart girl.

When I told her that I remembered giving her a fifty guilder bill, she repeated that I had given her a 25 guilder bill. As she seemed so sure, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, and leave it there.

I have kept on searching my mind, to find an explanation for the missing 25 guilders. Did I really give her a 25 guilder bill, or was she mistaken.

Flying ants

I found a dead ant with wings on my desk this morning. And then I noticed that there were many of them lying dead in the corner of the window. You do not think of ants as being flying insects, but at a certain time of the year they suddenly do get wings. What's the mechanism behind this, I wonder.


Tuesday, July 6, 1999

Andy

Today we went to the Academical Hospital in Maasstricht, the Netherlands. We drove through Germany most of our trip, as this is the shortest, fastest (you may drive 140 Kmph), and cheapest (the gas is cheaper in Germany) way to go.

We went to the hospital to find out more about whether Andy has the Kabuki Syndrome or not. We visited a clinical geneticus, who is regarded as an expert with respect to the Kabuki syndrome. Her conclusion was that Andy, our son of 21 months old, should indeed be considered as having the Kabuki Syndrome. Since last year October, we knew that there was a rather large chance that Andy could have this syndrome, but no definite diagnoses was made. Partly because he was still rather young, and was not one of the very typical cases.

Andy is now the youngest known child having the Kabuki syndrome in the Netherlands. Although we have mixed feelings about the diagnoses, we feel mostly relieved, that it is for sure now. Above all we know that Andy remains who he has been all the time.


Friday, July 16, 1999

Rainbow in the sky

When we arrived at our office, I noticed a rainbow straight above my head in the sky. There was no sign of rain anywhere to be seen. The rainbow was only visible in the thin clouds high up in the sky with the red part in the direction of the sun. I regretted that I did not have a camera with me. As far as I can remember I have never seen this phenomenon before. It also disappeared quite quickly. Then I noticed that the clouds were streaking out, as if they were forming rain. At first, I thought that this could explain the rainbow phenomenon, but then I realized that it is way too cold at the altitude of these clouds to have water drop at all.

VB versus C++

One of my colleagues says that C++ is a very low level language compared to C++. Another colleague encountered a bug which was caused by the fact that Not 1 evaluates to -2 in Visual Basic. At first this may seem very odd, but it is not. VB does not only has bitwise logical operations. False equals to 0, and True equals to -1, as in the 2-complement representation it is equal to all bit set. In a certain sense this is very smart from the people designing VB, because you do not need two sets of logical operators, namely the boolean logical operators, and the bitwise logical operations. And another funny consequence is that now you can use =< for logical implication.

When I remarked that because VB only has bitwise logical operations it must be a more low-level language than C++, this colleague of mine replied: That is because it was designed by people that use C++. And he added that VB was probably implemented using C++. I think he is right.

From a view point of language design, both C++ and VB make the same stupid decision to consider Boolean values, and bit vectors as signed integers. These should have been three non-interchangeable different types. These appearently minor design decisions, which seemed so handy at first, have been the cause of many horrible bugs.


Saturday, July 24, 1999

Some photography books from 'De Slegte'

'De Slegte' bookshop in Enschede is definitely my favourite bookshop, and there is hardly a Saturday that I do not go there, although the visits are usual rather short. It is quite an interesting bookshop with respect to it's interior layout, although I have to admit that 'De Slegte' bookshop in Utrechts is even more interesting with it's winding stairs going to the top floor. (You have to be been there to understand what I mean). Today, I noticed, that it is possible to see people who are walking outside the shop from the third floor, which itself does not have any windows. Standing at the top of the stairs, you can see a spying mirror at the first floor, through a mirror which is attached to the floor separating the second and third floor. Through the spying window you can look outside. Because of the nature of the spying mirror, the outside looks very far away. To actually be able to recognize anybody on the street, a telescope is required.

I bought two books. One second hand book by William Neill, with the title Landscapes of the spirit, which contains landscape photographs, which almost match up with those of Shinzou Maeda. Some of the pictures also remind me of James Gleick.

Another book I bought was from the sale, and costed less than a dollar. Its is the French language edition of a catalogue of an exibition under the title The Gate of the Present held in 1992 in Frankfurt in Germany. This exibition consisted of 25 models of buildings. All the models are made from Lego bricks.


Tuesday, July 26, 1999

Andy recognizes my voice

This afternoon, I phoned home, and
Li-Xia switched the telephone to hands-free mode. When I called Andy, he immediately started moving to the front door in his walking chair. He must have recognized my voice, and have thought that I was coming home.


Friday, July 30, 1999

Annabel is lying, or the placebo effect

Annabel often complains in the evening just before she has to go to bed that her back is itching. Most of the time, I just scratch her back, and when the itching is really bad, I threat it with some mentol powder. This evening, I decided to play some trick with her. While she was laying on her stomach, I pretended that I was putting on the powder, but I only rubbed her back with a piece of wadding. When I was ready, she assured me that the itching was gone.

Was she lying to me about the itching, I wondered. Of course, it is possible that me rubbing her back very gently, indeed cured the itching. Or is this a clear example of the placebo effect? I think, that the itching is only there in her imagination. If you think that your back may be itching, it really starts to itch after some time. Most likely, this is her way of getting me to touch her before she has to go to bed.

IQ test

We looked for some IQ tests, and while doing one, won the following award:


Talking about mathematics

This evening, Li-Xia and I, talked about compression methods, FFT, Fourier & Laplace transformations, wavelets, quantium mechanics, and X-Ray Fluorescence. Very diverse topics, which, nevertheless are closely related. We were guided by a Chinese mathematics encyclopedia which she a long time ago bought for 4.1 Yuan.


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