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Diary, December 2003

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       1   2   3   4   5   6
   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
  14  15  16  17  18  19  20
  21  22  23  24  25  26  27
  28  29  30  31

Monday, December 1, 2003

Head louse

Yesterday evening, Annabel told me that a Sunday school teacher had told her that she has head louse. Some weeks ago she already had mentioned that a little insect had fallen out of her hair, but at that time I could not find anything. But when I checked her, I did see some walking through her hair. Because I did not know how to threat them, I did not do anything. Of course, I did check the internet and was quickly educated. I learned some interesting facts. Many people that are infested with them, do not notice it at all. And although lice cannot jump, they can swim, and you can thus catch them from the swimming pool. The most effective, cleanest, and easiest way to treat them is to cut off the hair. The second best way to treat them is combing. Use of pesticides is not necessary and not without dangers. I did learn that the use of vinegar can help with removing nits, and that the use of tea tree oil can also help against getting them. Avoiding shampoo and using a hair conditioner seems also to be a good idea. Lice feel at home in clean, dry hair. Cleaning all the clothes and whole the house is not needed, as long as you keep on combing the hair for at least two weeks. This morning, I spend some time removing lice, but I was not able to finish the work. We will have to do more later today. I also gave her a note for her teacher. I guess they will have to organize some lice checking at school, as the are used to do after each holiday.

Down to 5

It looks like the Prednison is not really working with Andy. This morning, his platelets count dropped to 5. I am afraid his pediatrician will want him to stay in the hospital. I only talked with his secretary. She will inform him. I did inform his teacher, and they said they would try to keep him quiet. He has been in a very good mood in the past days. I am getting the impression that the Prednison also has a positive influence on his mental abilities. Two years ago, we also saw some striking improvements during the time he used it.

(follow-up, updated graph, and Prednison effect)

Just continue

Around two o'clock Li-Xia was phoned by our pediatrician. He advised us to continue with the high dosage of Prednison for another two weeks and have him tested again next Thursday. Apparently, he does not see a reason for taking another approach. We are not sure whether we should send Andy to school tomorrow. Li-Xia did go to catch him, instead of letting him ride the taxi as he usually does. Maybe we have to bring him by car again tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003


Yesterday evening, I spend some hours debugging Annabel with a comb. I was rather surprised by the large number of louse we found. Her hair is rather long and thick. But we should have discovered this before and dealt with it in a proper manner. Everybody can become infested with louse, and it is rather common among primary school kids. I think most parents just ignore the problem, being ashamed of it, until someone from outside points out the problem. And even then, many just go in rejection mode, and opt for the quick pesticide solutions advertised by shops, only to find out a few weeks later that the problem has returned, not realizing that the real problem has not been addressed.

I also decided to check myself with a comb, and within minutes there were three head louse laying on the floor. I did not find any more. Later, Li-Xia did some more combing, but without results. I checked her. She did not have any. Probably because she has very thick hair, which is simply too thick for them.

This morning, I combed Annabel again, and we discovered another three louse. I finally feel I have found a good way for combing her hair in such a way that I do not skip any part and do comb each hair all the way from the skin. I did a visual check on Andy, and could not find any nits. Just when I started to write this (during my lunch break), I found a louse laying on my desk near my keyboard. Seems that the problem is not over yet. It might have fallen out of my clothes though, or I picked it up during the night or while combing Annabel this morning.

Cause of Kabuki Syndrome

According to the report Unmasking Kabuki syndrome by J.M. Milunsky and X.L. Huang a cause for the Kabuki Syndrome has been found. In summary, they have demonstrated an approximately 3.5 Mb duplication of chromosome 8p22-8p23.1 in multiple cases of KS from different races, suggesting a possible common etiologic basis for Kabuki Syndrome. In other words, they found duplication of genetic material on chromosome 8 in the p22-23.1 region. Besides this, they also found an indication that this might be caused by an inversion of genetic material in region 8p23.1 as found with the mothers.

The article makes a reference to the paper Inversion duplication of the short arm of chromosome 8: clinical data on seven patients and review of the literature, about another syndrome caused by a similar duplication in the 8p21-p22 region. One of the authors of this article is Prof. C.T. Schrander-Stumpel, the woman who diagnosed Andy with Kabuki. What a coincidence.


Thursday, December 4, 2003

Street lights

When I biked home yesterday, I came into an area of "Stadsveld" where the street lights were not working. Luckily the light of my bike was working. It was rather dark and a little spooky.

Platelet count remains constant

This morning Andy had his blood checked again. When I phoned for the results, I was connected through with his pediatrician. He told me that he is still on 5. He already consulted a colleague, who specializes in hematology, about it. It looks we just have to continue the medication. I did find a site about ITP with children and also about experimental treatment methods. One page also made mentioning of "Helicobacter pylori" infection. Our pediatrician does not think Andy has a bacterial infection. We just will have to wait, I guess.

Andy is doing fine. I am getting the feeling that the Prednison has a positive effect on his low muscle tone and his mental ability. We feel that his speech has improved and that he walks much more stable and less clumsy.

(follow-up and updated graph)

Sunday, December , 2003


At 17:01, Willem-Alexander and Maxima got a healthy daughter. That means that a Dutch princes was born. Around half past nine Willem-Alexander presented her to the press and to us.


Monday, December 8, 2003

Andy is recovering!!

This morning,
the platelet count of Andy had gone up to 89. It seems he finally starts to response to the Prednison. That is good news. He has been complaining the whole morning that he wanted to go to school. Now he can go. Li-Xia will send him as soon as possible. Now we still have to see if the counts remain normal after we reduce the Prednison.

(follow-up and updated graph)

Broken teeth

During the lunch break, some boy pushed Annabel against a wall, because she pushed him, with the result that both her upper front teeth broke-off. I am just coming back from the dentist, who managed to "glue" the broken parts in place. We have scheduled another appointment later this afternoon, to do some additional repair work and polishing. We will have to talk with the parents of the boy.


Tuesday, December 9, 2003


Yesterday evening, I had to go back to the office to catch up with the lost hours due to having to go to the dentist with
Annabel. And when I came home, I had to write a letter to the parents of the boy to held them liable for the damage. This morning it was 4.5 degrees Celsius below zero and the full moon was just standing above the horizon of the clear sky. Near the second traffic light that find on my way, a girl on a bike was hit by a car, when she thought she could slip through the red light just before an approaching car. She got up immediately, but was holding her hand to her head. Some drivers got out of the car and went to her, so I did not feel the need to stop as well. Accidents happen in the split of a second.

Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria

The name of the new princes is Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria. The first part of her name was already discovered yesterday when some people were smart enough to search for domains registered by the same IP address as the home page of the royal family. Nowadays, people no longer respect the privacy of royalty, and take a way the joy of parents to reveal the name of their child at the moment they choose.

Her calling name will be Amalia. The name Beatrix she got from the current Queen of the Netherlands, her paternal grandmother, while Carmen comes from her maternal grandmother.

Single or double click events

A computer mouse has buttons that can be pushed. The computer just sees an alternating sequence of buttons being pushed down and released again. There are all kind of manners in which buttons can be pushed. Under Windows three such ways are recognized: The people designing the Windows Application Programming Interface (API), the interface through which all programs talk with the core of Windows, did not think about this subject in too much detail. They decided to always generate an event for a single click even if that single click was later to be discovered to be part of a double click. That means that everywhere where an application can process a single and double click in the same area, it has to implement a timer to see if a single click event is not followed by a double click event. Then why did they not make it such that a single event is only generated, if it is not part of a double click? They did this, because otherwise it would introduce a short delay also in those cases where only single clicks can occur. Their idea of implementing the interface (and this is often the case) was that they would provide the elementary events to allow applications to deal with single and double clicks, and nothing more. They should have given it a little bit more thought or at least given the task to write some applications first. (This is what is bad about defining interfaces bottom-up, instead of top-down. eXtreme Programming promotes a top-down interface development.) They should have defined three kinds of click events:

(Move event during single click)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Showing your ID

According to a law recently accepted in the Netherlands, from the start of 2005, everyone older than 14 years will have to show a valid ID upon request from a police officer (or other qualified officer), facing a fine of a maximum of € 2250 when failing to do so. However, the law also states that not carrying a valid ID is not an offence in itself. I really do not understand the legal idea behind it and what it means in practice. Until now the law stated that you had to show a valid ID when you were suspected of a crime. Now, if you are witness of an accident or a crime, you can be fined if you do not have an ID with you. I wonder what will happen if you are being robbed from your ID and to go to the police.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Latin dictionairy

We left around noon, and we first went to a Chinese shop because Li-Xia wanted to change some kind of mushroom that she had bought for a different kind. All of us went, but when we realized how strong it was raining and storming, we decided to go home again, to the disappointment of our kids.

Around two o'clock, I went to the city on my bike to buy some things. It was still raining, and the wind was blowing in the direction of the city center, which made me realize I would have to bike against it when going home. I parked my bike in the free bike parking lot, and went to the open market. I first bought some tomato, and next I went to buy some raisin bun and some other for Li-Xia. Then I walked to the De Slegte bookshop and looked around the books. Finally, I decided to buy the Pocket Dictionary Latin by Langenscheidt, which I already had seen some weeks ago. When I paged through it, I was surpriced by how many Latin words looked familiar. One would almost think that English is a dialect of Latin.

And then it was time to go home, and it was still raining, meaning that I had to bike against the rain, but at least I knew that at home I could warm myself and put of any wet clothes. The best thing is just to except the reality, and spend your time thinking about something useful. And that is what I did, and before I knew I was half way.

Later, when I wanted to know what kind of mushroom it was that Li-Xia had bought, she looked up the name in a Chinese-English dictionary, which happened to give the Latin name: Auricularia auricula-judea. In the dictionary I found that auricula means ear. Later I discovered that it English name is Jew's Ear. It is a kind of fungus often found on elder trees. It gets its name indirectly from the elder tree, for it was on an elder tree that Judas is reported to have hanged himself after betraying Jesus. I also found some nutrition data, saying that it is a very good source of Pantothenic Acid and Copper.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Some snow

It was 2.8 degrees Celsius when I left home. A clear sky with the moon high up in the sky accompanied by a bright planet (Jupiter, I guess). Later clouds came, and it did snow a few minutes.

Henk Alblas

This afternoon, I went to the mini-seminair in honour of the professional retirement of Henk Alblas at the University of Twente. He is both my former teacher, my master thesis supervisor, and my boss for three years. Before and afterwards, I met with many of my former colleagues, and it brought back many memories from events long ago. One of them when recognizing me said, "O yes, our LISP guy". And continued telling how some of the other students thought that they could program because they has written some lines in BASIC, but I was the only one, he explained, who really could program, because I knew LISP. With someone else, I discussed the fact that I never did a PhD, and he argued that you are never too old to do it. I explained that my problem is that I too quickly loose interest in something, to be working on some "obscure" subject for more than four years, especially, if I am not convinced that it contributes anything to the real world. And what benefit would it bring me now. I just view the academic world as just another type of company, where most of the work consists of teaching and organizing education, and where people can only do some research in their spare time. There are not many scientists (at least at universities) that are completely free to do research on those things that capture their interests at the moment. Most research is done by PhD students and Post Docs, and after those approximately 6 years, most people in academics stop doing research, except in the form of overseeing others.

I also discussed with several people, how hard-core software engineering is disappearing from the Western World, and moving to certain Third-World countries, because labor is so much cheaper, and people in the West no longer see technical work as a way to get up higher in society. Most of the Computer Science students nowadays, are only thinking about becoming a manager or at least a consultant, and are not interested to tackle any complicated, technical subject. This also seems to be related to the fact that we do not see any real progress with respect to the technical aspects of oftware engineering. Most "serious" code is still written in a very low level language, because no matter how you view it, C(++) is still basically just a thin layer above machine language. Software generators still haven't arrived, and as long as relatively cheap programmers are available, they will never become a success. I also argued that one of the weak points of software generators is that most people find it much harder to write down a formal specification than to explain, step-by-step, how a computer has to perform the task. For most people trail-and-error is much easier than thinking it through.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

To the hospital

Around 12 o'clock we have an appointment for Andy with our pediatrician. This morning, his temperature was 40.3 degrees Celsius. Yesterday morning it was 39.4. His platelets counts dropped again to 66 after we reduced the Prednison to half the doses. I had anticipated this drop. Two years ago, his recovery was also rather slow. This morning he had some blood mixed with some other liquid coming from his ear. I expect that he will get some antibiotics.

Acute ear infection

Our pediatrician did exam Andy. He did not have a lung infection. He too observed some small bleedings in the face of Andy, indicating that the platelets are low (lower than 30, I guess). Yesterdays blood test shows that Andy does have a viral infection. Then he sent us to a ENT doctor, less than 50 meters away. She concluded that Andy did have an acute ear infection. Although his ear was perforated this morning, she could not detect a hole anymore. Li-Xia took Andy for some more blood tests.

When the results from the blood test came, it appeared that his platelet count had dropped to 34. There was no reason for giving him antibiotics, except it his fever remained high. We were asked to bring him in on Friday, for some blood tests again.

(follow-up and updated graph)

Friday, December 19, 2003


This afternoon, I was given the bottle of Cava with the number label GH 4712481, as my New Year gift. It is the time of Christmas gifts and celebrations.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Confessions of a Philosopher

Today, Annabel and I went to the city center by bus, using some free tickets that Li-Xia had got. During the bus ride, I explained Annabel about area and perimeter. She had not understood the meaning of the Dutch word for perimeter, but she understood it when I gave some example with a rectangle. Then I asked her if there is a relation between the area and the perimeter. She did not give an example, but with some examples, she understood that there was a relation. Then I said to her, that I knew of a way to make the perimeter larger, while making the area smaller. O ya, she said, with a crooked line. I was thinking about giving the example of the Exterior Snowflake, but I figured out that it was rather useless, as she already understood it.

Although they had predicted rain, it stayed dry most of the time. When we bought some bread from "t' stoepje" we got a extra large shopping bag for free.

As usual, we also went to the bookshop De Slegte. There I bought at 14:26 the Dutch translation of Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee, with the Dutch title Bekentenissen van een Filosoof. On the cover it has a picture of the painting Le fils de l'homme by René Magritte. While waiting at the bus stop, I read the first pages to Annabel.

Monday, December 22, 2003

A little snow

This morning when I went outside, I was greeted with a little bit of snow. It was 2.1 degrees Celsius so the chances for it to stay were rather small.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Snow again

This morning it was 1.1 degrees Celsius when I went outside. The roads are quiet as schools are closed and many people are taking a holiday already. During the morning it started to snow with small flakes. The snow is not really staying except for on the grass. I wonder whether the temperature will drop enough. Warmer air is slowly moving in from the west, so the snow is bound to disappear soon anyway. Yesterday, Sweden was hit by some serious snow storms even killing a young couple who's car came in the water.

Publishing old diaries

In the past week, I have spend some time publishing fragments from diaries which I wrote in 1980. It is interesting to read those stories. They are from the time that I was having my first girlfriend. Although we never "officially" dated each other and never kissed each other, it was a very emotional and disturbing time. We saw each other about twice per week, but we still wrote each other letters, and for some time even used a pair of notes books that we would swap on each encounter. Although there have been some intimate moments, the relation was rather Platonic, with neither of us wanting to admit how much we were in love for various reasons. This period is definitely the most productive with respect to the number of pages written, about 900 pages, I guess. These are not exclusively about this particular relationship.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Nonogram solver

Yesterday and today, I spend some time on 'improving' the nonogram solver that I wrote before. I finally implemented the ideas with respect to how a human person could solve the puzzle using simple reasoning. The program now first tries to apply some simple logic to improve the solution, before it resolves to trying all combinations.


Smart Andy

This afternoon some Chinese friends visited us, and they brought some small presents. After Andy had opened everything, he started to clean. He brought the papers to the waste bin (Li-Xia helped him putting it on the old paper stack) and he put the plastic bags besides the cough where we keep all our normal bags. I did not pay much attention to this. Then he continued doing his normal things, which is watching video's at double speed. He can now change them by himself, but still often asks us to help him. Then when they wanted to leave he got up, and ran to the cough to collect the plastic bags and he returned them to them. I was totally amazed by this. First of all because almost all children of his age will forget about these kind of things. And secondly because he had put these bags on purpose with the other bags, while I just had thought that he had put them there not knowing where to put them else. He really has a good memory and is able to remember things very well. And that for someone with a performal intelligence of around 50.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Blood check

This morning, I brought Andy to the hospital for another blood check. I walked along the pediatric department to get the paper for checking the platelets, and did meet our pediatrician by accident. He made some remark that Andy was having some spots again. I denied this. He has some fragels on his face and also some red bumps due to a slight skin irritation that he often has, but no bleedings under his skin.

This afternoon, I made a nice graph of his progress while waiting for the results. When I phoned around one o'clock, I was being told that the count was 16. Which is very low compared to the progress he made so far. After some time, I started to doubt whether this is correct, because he also does not have any serious blue spots on his legs. He was bleeding quite strong this morning when they pierced his finger, but that happens often. But if it is correct, we are in serious trouble, I am afraid.

(15:35) Maybe the problem is that we stopped giving him 500 mg vitamine C since last week. We started giving him this on December 4. It was the next Monday that the counts had suddenly improved. We started with it again.

(Later) Our pediatrician told us to continue the current medication for another week. If next week it still is low, a bone marrow punction will be done (probably in Amsterdam). This afternoon, Andy had some bleeding of his lip, so the count is really low. Strangly, he also seemed more active, and even surprised us when he used the expression "I myself".


This months interesting links

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