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Monday, November 1, 1999
Today, I am celebrating my 38th birthday. Last Saturday,
my daughter Annabel reminded me that it
was only to nights sleeping until it would be my birthday. I feel
the older I become the less I care about celebrating my birthday.
Not that I am afraid to recognize my age, otherwise, I would not
have mentioned it in the first line. It just seems as if no longer
my birthday is such a special day anymore.
To be honest, I have never liked birthdays so much, because they
seem to be so much ruled by traditions and complex social interactions,
that require all kinds of people to be satisfied.
I got four glasses with the first character of
my name in Chinese as a birthday present, which made me very happy.
Li-Xia must have bought them together with the
Li-Xia prepared a nice dinner for me, consisting of six dishes. One of
this was tofu dipped in egg, fried
with a little leek.
Annabel claims my chestnut
At school, I noticed a chestnut on the table of Annabel,
when I brought her there. She immediately put it back in the basket on the middle of
the table. When I showed her the chestnut from my pocket, she wanted
to have it, and refused to let me go. I gave in under the promise that
I could get it back in return of another one in the afternoon.
When I got her later, the first thing we did was swapping chestnuts.
Are we mad? And if so, who is the maddest?
Annabel using a desktop calculator
This afternoon, Annabel and I went shopping,
because it was a shopping Sunday. (In the Netherlands the shops are
usually closed on Sundays, except for a number of Sundays.)
In one of the shops Annabel noticed a childrens book with a small
calculator attached to it. She immediately told me that she wanted to
have it, and refused to go away when I told her that she could not
get it. All my usual tricks to get her away from it failed. When I
applied force she started to scream. Finally, I gave in, because of
the educational value of the book.
As soon as we had paid for it, she wanted to play with it. Then I
discovered that the user-interface of a desktop calculator is far
from ideal. You have to press the buttons in a very strict order,
and you cannot correct any mistakes, except by repeating the
sequence from the start. But what is more confusing, when you press
certain buttons nothing visual happens, but the internal state of
the calculator as changed. To make a simple sum like '3 + 4 =', I
had to tell her which buttons she had to push. Especially, the '+'
button confused her, because she remarked that she did not see
anything happen, from which she concluded that it did not work.
This afternoon, Li-Xia was cleaning
Andy's room after she had put him in our bedroom,
because she wanted to clean his bed, when suddenly she saw
him sit-up from lying on the ground. That was the very first time
we saw him do this. Later this day, after I had arrived home,
he did it another two times, of which I video taped the last
We feel about this as other parent do when their child walks
free for the first time. I think we are going to have cake
when Andy will walk free the first time!
When leaving the office this evening, I remarked to colleague that
had to expect the first snow within ten days, when we noticed how
cold it gets these days.
And to my surprise, it did start snowing while driving home. And
it continued snowing until we came home. The snow did not stay
however. It quite early for the first snow, last year the first
snow fell on November 25.
Somebody has filled a bookcase besides our coffee vending machine
with VAX/VMS documentation.
We wondered why it is stored there,
asking ourselves whether there is still a VAX/VMS machines around
in the company. Sometimes in big companies, old documents are moved from
one bookcase to another, until nobody knows anything about them
anymore, and everybody is afraid to throw them away. Luckily,
that is not what happened in this case, because there still hapened
to be one VAX/VMS machine around, one of our colleagues explained.
It even does have a mail account. Not so long ago, it was even
used for fixing a Y2K problem with one of the oldest software
packages produced here.
Everytime I pass by, I have to keep myself from picking out a
manuals, and page through it.
Small snow storm
When I looked outside this morning to check if the car was ready
for use, e.g., I did not have to scratch off any ice, the car
looked okay. About five minutes later, I decided to leave together
with Annabel, but when I opened the door
it was happily surprised to see that the car was covered by snow,
and that it was snowing heavily. The snow did stay on the ground,
but by the time I reached my office most of it was gone again.
When leaving the cafeteria, I by accendent over heard someone
say: "On my wanderings, I have come to the conclusion that
basically, all religions are the same." My first thought was:
"This is not true". I could resist the temptation to stay
and try to catch more of the conversation. He explained what
he ment with this statement, namely, that he had observed the
all religious systems had arrived at the same set of moral
laws: do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, do not take your
neighbour's wife. He found it suprising that everywhere in the
world people come to the same conclusions about what is just
and right to do.
Indeed, in this sense all religions are the same. But are
these ethic rules the result of religion or just the result
of evolution, as some might say. I also dare to say that
what makes a religion a religion is not it's sets of ethic
rules. Of course, there is some relation: the ethics are the
result of the teachings. But the reverse is definitely not
When are you a child
This morning, Annabel
came to my side of the bed, to ask me
if she could go down, because she wanted to eat something.
I told her that she should get dressed first. Then she asked
me to help her. She can dress herself, so, I asked her why
she could not do it by herself. She replied: "I am a child".
Then we had some discussion about when you stop being a
child. At least not when you have children yourself, she
This afternoon, Li-Xia helped
me find the Go stones which I once got from one of my
previous boses, who happened to play the game very well.
Then I had to draw a 9x9 sized board. 13x13 seemed to big
to start with anyway.
Annabel already had played the
game before (with my help, of course) on the computer. But
it was obvious that she did not really understand the rules
nor the goal of the game. I decided to first focus on the
rules for capturing stones. So, I just laid down some
stones, and asked her to capture them with as few as possible
stones. When she captured the stones, she was allowed to
I also tried to play a real game with her, but made her
very upside down, when she discovered I was getting behind
her, or when I captured stones from her. As long as I let
her win, she liked it very much. We will see how this
In Japan, paper folding is an art, but in China it is a daily
practice. Every school going child knows how to wrap things in
paper without using glue, tape, or anything else. Even packing
half a kilo in a normal sized sheet of paper is but a simple
thing for the average Chinese. It used to that if you bought
some sugar, you would get it packed in a square box, which was
folded just while you waited. I wonder how these boxes are
around a quarter to five in the afternoon there was a beautiful
red glow from the sun in the dark blue sky.
October 1999 |
December 1999 |