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Diary, May 2003

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  18  19  20  21  22  23  24
  25  26  27  28  29  30  31

Thursday, May 1, 2003


This evening, when Annabel and I came back from swimming lessons, we saw a partial rainbow just when we left the swimming pool. Later on the evening, we saw an almost complete rainbow. Last Sunday, Annabel also saw a double rainbow when traveling with some friends.

Saturday, May 3, 2003

Death of a hard disk

This afternoon, when I felt kind of bored, I decided, I was going to give my idea of turning my oldest computer (annabel) into a minimalistic Linux "server", a second try. So, I went to the attic and started to play. After some fiddling around with the set-up files, I managed to get the COM-port on the main I/O-card working such that I could plug a terminal into it. Then I took out all other boards, and it still worked. So there it was, a case, a power supply, a mother board, a hard disk, a floppy drive, a I/O-card and some cables. No keyboard attached, no monitor attached, only a null-modem cable running to my toshiba laptop, and I could still talk to it, and make it do something. Then I was thinking about doing away the floppy drive. I opened the power supply and blew the dust out of it and inverstigated how I could take apart the computer even further. I decided to keep it in the case, and removed the floppy drive. When I wanted to start it up, it failed. I played with the IDE cable in order to make it boot again, but it didn't. So, the only thing I could do was to plug in the video card and hook it up to a monitor, and see what setup was telling me. After I had did this, it turned out that the drive was no longer recognized. I tried every possible combination of connecting it to with the IDE-cable to the I/O-card, but it the drive remained unrecognizable. I even tried to connect it to ester, but that also did not work. After some final and desparate attempts, I had to conclude that the drive had died. It is still spinning, and the making that typical start-up noises, but it is no longer responding. Most likely, some part in the IDE interface must have been broken either by static electricity or by me hooking it up wrong. Luckily, I already had copied all essential data to one of the other computers I own, but the Linux Slackware distribution that I installed on it more than eight years ago, is gone for ever, I am afraid.


Monday, May 5, 2003

Swing bench

Yesterday afternoon the weather was very nice with temperatures around 22 degrees Celsius. We decided to move the swing chair outside. I tried to relax and enjoy the soft warm air, but I was all the time interrupted by Andy who for some reason had decided that it was time to bring his collection of video tapes outside on the swing chair. I had to stop swinging everytime when he arrived with some more tapes. He became a little angry when we had to clear up everything.

When Andy was running outside, I suddenly became aware of how much noise he maked all the time. Last Saturday, I had gone over to our new neighbours to introduce myself. I told them that we had two children and that Andy had a mental handicap. They responded with "So what?". I told them that he had some behavour problems. I wonder what they will be thinking now.


George W Bush has expressed unshakeable confidence that banned weapons will be found in Iraq but complained that Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein's closest deputies, is not co-operating with US forces who have him in custody. Either the Iraqi's are very good at hiding or there are no weapons of mass destruction. One can at least conclude that they did not have a weapon system able to attack the United States directly. This morning it was 14.9 degrees Celsius when I left home. Yesterday, temperatures got as high as 22 degrees in the middle of the afternoon.


Last weekend, I watched the latter half of The Devil's arithmetic.

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Pim Fortuyn

Today, it is one year ago that Pim Fortuyn was killed. Many memorial activities are being held here in the Netherlands, and even in the little Italian village where he was buried.

Thursday, May 8, 2003

Half a milion Euro junks

The police department from the city of Utrecht had calculated that the average damage caused by a single hard drug addict was about half a milion Euro per year. They calculated this on the basis of how much they have to spend on their drugs. These junks have to steal and robe to get their money. From selling their stolen goods, they only get about 10% of the real value of the goods. And on top of this, there are the costs of damage they caused during their theft, such as costs for insurance companies. The number seems rather realistic.

But where does the money go? Money cannot disappear, it has to go somewhere. If you burn a bill, it simply means that you give it back to the bank you got it from (without them knowing directly). Clearly, a percentage goes to the drug dealers, but probably not more than 5%. A great part goes to the people buying the stolen goods. They usually sell them to others as well, thus causing prices on second hand markets to be low. The thieves also produce work for insurance companies allowing them to offer well-paid jobs to their employees. As you can see most of the money flows back into society. The real damage, which cannot be expressed in money, is the emotional damage caused to the people being robbed.


Surgeons say 2-year-old Noshin Hoque will probably die within a year or two unless the tumor growing deep in her brain is removed. But the operation itself will probably kill her or leave her blind or paralyzed. A terrible dilemma. I think the parents should not be prosecuted, although I do not know what I should do in their position.

Small world

During the swimming lesson of Annabel, I was reading the last issue of Intermediair, and came across an article discussing the ideas of Martijntje Smits, who I happen through Meindert, a mutual friend. I showed the article to one of the other fathers watching, and he also happened to know her. When we talked a little further, I discovered that he knows Meindert as well.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Junk mail

Today, I received a strange mail. Why would someone send me such an email, I wonder. Is this Spam?

Monday, May 12, 2003

FC Twente is Enschede

This morning, the whole city was filled with posters saying "FC Twente is Enschede". It was clear that most of this posters were put up illegally. (In the afternoon, I even saw some put on traffic signs!) The local soccer club FC Twente has a dept of 14 milion Euro due to a combination of advertisement profits going down, paying players to much and financial mismanagement. And now they are on the brink of going bankrupt. Strong pleas have been made to the local government to support them. This poster announced to gather before the townhall at six o'clock in the evening when their would be a meeting deciding on whether the local government was going to support FC Twente with a loan of 4.5 milion Euro. This evening, I heard that the majority of the city counsel did support this plan, and that details will we worked out. Personally, I am not in favour of giving support to soccer clubs. Soccer is our national sport, but it doesn't interest me at all. And I am not the only one. Why should I then have to pay for it, because the local government is paid by tax incomes. But what is more important is that FC Twente is organized as a commercial company with about a hunderd employees of which some (the players) receive huge salaries. Till the midst of the ninties there used to a tranfer systems where soccer clubs paid large sums of money for transfering players. Especially for the smaller clubs this produced a lot of income. But the whole system was really acting like a pyramid system. After it was abolished, the wages of the soccer players went up for two reasons. Firstly, many clubs now started to offer more money to the players, because the did not have to pay for the transfer anymore. Secondly, because giving them high salaries contracts for multiple years offered them the possibilty to demand substitution in case a player cancelled his contract. So in a sense the transfer system was simply replaced by a different system with the same effects. However, the system collapsed and now the majority of soccer clubs in the Netherlands (and elsewhere in Europe) are facing major financial problems.


This morning it was 12.7 degrees Celsius. It was not raining and that is what matters most. Yesterday afternoon, temperatures were around 22 degrees in the shade. Nice weather for sitting outside, and that is what I did some time. Qapla'! Hospital seeks Klingon speaker. This weekend, I watched the movies "Existenz" (only the last 15 minutes), "Solvent green", and "Last of the dogmen".

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Integration with my blog

It was today, that I decided to integrate my blog with this online diary. As you can see, I also have merged messages before this date with this online diary. A selection of messages from the blog will be archived there. The reason for this setup is that I do not have the means to update my online diary frequently.

Fireworks disaster

Today it is three years ago that Enschede was hit by the fireworks disaster. Yesterday, the only suspect was released from prison after is case was cancelled in a higher court, based on the lack of substantial evidence. It is still unclear who caused the fire that ignited the disaster, and it looks like it will still take a long time before that question will be answered.


Friday, May 16, 2003

Confidential letter

This morning it was rather sunny and about 9 degrees Celsius. Before I went to my office, I first mowed the lawn in our back garden. I understood that the moon eclips was not very visible here in the Netherlands because of an early sunrise. It is really noticible that it stays light longer. It is only a little more than a month till the longest day light time.

Yesterday, I received a letter from my IPS having with red letters saying "confidential". Then when I wanted to open it, I noticed that it already had been opened by someone else and being closed again with some tape. But when I read the letter, I really had to laugh, as it started with the sentense: "Yes, doesn't it feel terrible when your confidential mail has been opened." It was just an advertisement for an DSL connection, with which they give a free firewall and virus checker, which cost more than € 100, they say. They also are showing this TV commercial of man breaking into a house and throwing everything around while the people in it are just quietly doing there business, suggesting that hackers can easily come into you computer and destroy all your private possessions. I am still waiting for them to install a spam filter. Even their web portal for reading emails, simply shows all inlined images, which the spammers do to verify your address, and they do not provide an option to have your spam bounce as undeliverable mail (which, I think, is a very effective means of stopping spam in the long run).

Yesterday, we got the results back from the SON-R 2.5-7 Nonverbal Intelligence Test that Andy took. Look here for a description of the composition of the test. His score: catergories: 2j9m, mosaic: 2j10m, puzzles: 3j5m, patterns: 2j6m, situations: 4j2m, and analogies: 3j9m. We were not giving the matching IQ scores, maybe because they are not very good.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Wasp like insect

Annabel had jumped in Li-Xia's side of the bed, while I was still in the process of waking-up, when we heard a loud buzzing noise in the room. Annabel told me, that she yesterday saw how a large insect flew into our bedroom. I got out of bed to investigate what was going on. It was indeed a large insect, larger than I ever had seen (apart from dragonflies). It was somewhere between 4 and 6 cm long and had a dark brown colour except for some fine yellow lines on it back body (which was about half of its size). I thought about taking a picture, but was afraid to lose it out of sight. Annabel had already gone outside the bedroom, and I didn't want her to watch it alone. Luckily it was close to the window, and I managed to open it. I closed the lids before the window, and after a few minutes it was gone.

(After some searching, it seems most likely
that it was a Vespa Crabro Hornet queen.)

Monday, May 19, 2003

Andy's progress

This morning we had a talk with some people from the "Klim Op" about Andy's progress. They suggested that we should consider the possibility to look for a school for Andy, because his possibilities to advance further at the "Klim Op" are becoming smaller. We already made an appointment with someone from the "De Huifkar" for coming wednesday. This is a school for children with great learning difficulties.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Are chimps human?

Morris Goodman claims that Chimps are human. However, if you look at his home page, it looks like he did not have any scientifical publication since 1999. So, is this really a new finding, or just an expression of his personal opinion on the subject. Anyway, it does raise the question what makes us human. Are we simply highly evolved apes, or are we created in the image of God?



This morning, a colleague of mine, saw his digital alarm clock blink with 4:04, when he woke-up. (It was blinking due to a power failure.) His first thought was "page not found". It seems that the number of power failures is increasing since the electricity companies have been privitized. We were just being told that this afternoon there will be two ten minutes power cuts due to maintenance operations. That might give me a chance to get my bike from the bike shop. I needed new peddles because the right one started to make a lot of noises.

Auxiliray power supply

Looks like we are now running on an auxiliray power supply, just outside our building. When we came back from lunch we had a quick look. It looks like the KCT and TO building are using about 180 Kw of electricity. (That might have gone up a little now that we have switched all our computers on again.) The power supply is on a truck and has the size of a small container.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

"De Huifkar"

This morning we went to see the head of the "De Huifkar" and we looked around the school. It looks like a normal school,except that it has many very special children. When we arrived there were immediately some boys asking what we came to do, and when we told who we were to see, they were very happy to give us directions and lead us the way. We did not see any reason why we should not enlist him there. With the coming school year some rules will be changed, which will force children with an IQ of 70 or higher to join regular schools. Andy's IQ is somewhere around 50, we were told last Monday.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Open day

Annabel and I went to the open day of the University of Twente. We went to the Computer Science department, where Annabel got a free morph movie from herself into a dog, we did some running, and watched some robot soccer. We also went to the Applied Mathematics department, where Annabel spend some time putting together a rhombicuboctahedron. I got two issues of a Dutch mathematics magezine called "Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde". When at home I looked at the problem sections in the back of these magezines, I again realized how limited my mathematical knowledge is. However, I did come across the name of Bert Jagers quite often, who happens to be a former teacher and former colleague of Li-Xia. He also did come to our wedding party.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Green garden

It was a little foggy outside this morning. When I left home, it was 11.9 degrees Celsius. After having a lot of rain in the past week, the weather reports are reporting dry weather and some nice temperatures for the coming days. The garden looks green, and the grass is growing nice. Even the new grass that I seeded seems to start to grow. It was rather long when I mowed it yesterday. The rain prevented me from cutting the grass earlier. Yesterday, my mother came to visit us to celebrate Li-Xia's birthday, which is tomorrow.

Reviving a hard disk

Today, I received a WD Caviar hard disk that I had bough through a Dutch free ad site. Earlier this month, a similar hard disk had died while I was playing with it. Some colleague had given the suggestion that I might rescue the disk by replacing the on disk controller. First thing I did after dinner was to bring annabel. But again the BIOS failed to recognize the new disk. I started to play around, but not with much success. I started to suspect the IDE-controller card to be broken. So, I started fiddling with it. At point I noticed that the disk busy LED was disconnected. After having connected it, suddenly things started to work again. After some BIOS adjustments, I suddenly saw the all to familiar Linux boot sequence appear. It seems that nothing was broken, except for the fact that the IDE-controller malfunctions when the busy LED is disconnected.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Jeroen Schot

This morning, I heard the news that Jeroen Schot, the Director of the Lucent Bell Labs Advanced Technologies organization in EMEA, suddenly died from a heart attack this weekend. He is an ex-colleague of some of my colleagues. Not that I knew him very well, but I once did have a job interview with him, during which he made some rather confronting remarks about my professional carreer being too chaotic for me ever to become a top researcher.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Flat tire

The day started out nice. Outside it was about 15.2 degrees Celsius. (Yesterday, late in the afternoon, it was 24.4 degrees Celsius, and there are good reasons to believe that temperatures will get as high as that again today.) But when I wanted to get my bike out, I discovered that I had a flat tire. But with these comfortable temperatures, it is no problem to repair is outside. I am afraid, I was a little to entheusiastic with pumping air into, because I suddenly hear the air flow out really strong. There was a tear under a previous repair. The tire was beyond repair now. I searched for any spare tire, but only found a 26 inch tire, and I do need a 28 inch one. I decided to go by car. Li-Xia is going to buy a new inside tire, and I am going to fix my bike this afternoon.


Thursday, May 29, 2003


At the moment we are visiting my sister to celebrate the birthday of her daughter. Almost everyone is sitting outside, because it is very hot. I am sitting behind the computer in the livingroom, and with one eye looking at "Die another day" which is running at the same time on the computer. There is also a video playing. Li-Xia is feeding Andy while talking with my mother. My mother went on a biking trip early this morning. "Dauwtrappen" we call this custom to go biking on Ascension day. She bike about 37 km. Not bad for age. She says she needs a new bike, because the current one is getting to small. In the past year she has shrinken a little. That happens more often with old people.

Saturday, May 31, 2003


I had set the alarm to 5:00. I woke-up Annabel and we both got dressed and got our bikes. We biked to a nearby bridge, which crosses highway A35.We could not see the sun yet. Soon two other man joined us. I was the first one to spot the sun. It was barely visible, and already completely above the horizon. Only a very thin line of the sun was visible on the right. Apparently, we missed the two lines which should have been visible right after sunrise. The sun slowly grew brighter as it got higher up into the sky. Also the line became bigger and bigger. I took about 12 pictures, most with my Trust digital camera.

This months interesting links

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