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Diary, January 2005

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  2   3   4   5   6   7   8
  9  10  11  12  13  14  15
 16  17  18  19  20  21  22
 23  24  24  26  24  24  24
 30  31

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Happy New Year

Yesterday night, both Annabel and Andy stayed up. We did bring Andy to his bed, but he just could not sleep because of all the fireworks that were being ignigted around out place. At twelve, I went outside with Annabel to watch the fireworks of the neighbour at the end of the street that always has a lot of "heavy" fireworks. We both put our fingers in our ears.


This afternoon, Annabel made a triangle shaped pyramid of "pepernoten" (some kind of small cookies with a round top and flat bottom that typically are eaten during the Dutch "Sinterklaas" celebration). She wanted me to take a picture of it. It was five layers high and we counted 35 "pepernoten". When I asked her how much more would be needed to make it one layer higher, she answered 21 after having made some calculations by heart. Then she also calculated that she could make a square pyramid of four layers using 30 "pepernoten" and she built one. Then I talked with her about the "triangle root". The "triangle root" of 15 is 5, because 1+2+3+4+5 is 15. You calculate the "triangle root" of a number by subtracting a half of the "square root" of sum of twice the number and a quarter.

Monday, January 3, 2005

First day in the new office

On December 30, the company I worked at moved to a new building. The company used to be in a building that is owned by the University of Twente, but a year ago they indicated that they wanted to use it again. So this morning, I started working in a new office. My desk and computer were already in place. Everything smelled new and the doors are still missing, not that I do miss them. Another interesting thing is that there are no light switches. The light just go on when you enter a room, and off again when there is no (significant) movement in ten minutes. The "normal" telephone does not work yet. The number has been rerouted to one of the model phones. And we also do not have an Internet connection yet. We are still kind of off-line. The first hour we were mostly shaking hands and walking along the corridor. We also do not have a "coffee machine" anymore, but instead have to make our own coffee (which is actually better, I guess) and use a water boiler of making tea. These are in the "kitchen", which also has a dish washer. The rest of the day remained a little chaotic, also because some additional network cables were laid. It almost feels like having started a new job.


Wednesday, January 5, 2005


This evening, Annabel and I went to the University to play Go. The building was open, but it was very quiet, because the students are still on a holiday. Martin arrived and he told Annabel that he had dreamed the night before that he met her in a movie theater. He decided to teach her Havannah, and went away to get a board. They used Go stones to play the game. Hearing their remarks, Rudi concluded that the game must be interesting. Martijn also knows the game. In a sense Havannah and Go are quite similar although the goal of the game is very different. They share many of the concepts. I told Martijn that it is much easier to formalize the rules of Havannah. He said that Go also did have a few rules. I did not agree with him, although I have to admit that the Chinese rules are easier than the Japanese rules, the complete formalization (like I did for Havannah) is rather complex. I played two games against Martijn. I lost both.

On the way home, I used playing Go as an example to Annabel how things are going in life. That you are often better off when you deal with things when they look like going wrong (like a group getting weaker in Go) and heed the warning signs, before they go wrong beyond repair (a group being killed). And also that you should not be too proud thinking that you can handle things on your own, and that you should seek help from others instead.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

A sunny day

Today, it is the first time that the sun is shinning this week. We suddenly have come to realize what it means that we do not have sun screen yet. The solution has been to put white boards (which luckily had not been installed yet) in front of the windows. From today the telephone and Internet connection are operational again. Quite an improvement compared to last Monday.

Friday, January 7, 2005


This morning, I finished reading Lila: An inquiry into Morals by Robert M. Pirsig. I guess my main motivation to finish the book was to put on the list of books that I have read. I am not very impressed by the book. I feel that at some points he author just babbles on and on. He could have been much more concise. It also seems that there is not a real relationship between all the philosophical musings and the story as it is taking place. Where in ZatAoMM the trick of telling a story in a story worked, it fails in Lila, maybe also because there is not much of a story in the philosophical parts. Much of the references to events in the past are chaotic, and sometimes rather ad hoc. And in a sense it seems that Phaedrus, the main character (the alter-ego of the author) is as much out-of-sync with reality as Lila, because he seems himself as a kind of genius (or guru) who alone "understands" the nature of reality. The relationship between him and Lila seems to be one of miscommunication. There is not much development in their relationship. It seems that Lila is only brought into the story for the purpose of explaining the authors "Metaphysics of Quality".

Sunday, January 9, 2005

SparcStation 5

This afternoon, I found out how to get into the SparcStation 5. It turned out be much simpler when I realized what NP stood for. In the shadow file there was the code "NP" in the password field. I took this to mean "No Password", but I guess it meant "Network Password". Once I removed all the "NP" codes from the shadow file, I could logon without having to provide a password. I discovered that there was not much software on the machine, not even a C compiler. So there is not much I can do with it.

Repeating Rule 30 patterns

Later this afternoon, I also discovered a very fast algorithm to find repeating Rule 30 patterns with a small area. The program that I wrote before, just became exponentionally slower with wider patterns. (Yesterday, I made another attempt to implement a faster version of for this kind of algorithm.) I had thought before about trying to write an alternative program, but it never worked out. This afternoon I thought about it again, and got an idea, and wrote a simple implementation of it (without really thinking about speed). When I ran it with debug output for some small cases, it finished in a remarkable low number of steps. After fixing some problems and building in some verifications and mechanism for filtering out "double" solutions, the program did find all repeating patterns with an area smaller or equal to 100 within five minutes.

Monday, January 10, 2005

11.7 degrees Celsius

When I left for my office, our outside thermometer indicated a temperature of 11.7 degrees Celsius. Even for the Netherlands this is a rather unusual reading for this time of the year. Later this week temperatures are going to drop again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Losing two games

This evening, I went to the Go club and played two games with Ton. For the first game he was given a seven stone handicap. I did not play very well, and soon lost a large group. Although I was ready to resign, others felt that there were still possibilities and so I continued. Then Martijn came to watch the game, and when Ton was trying to kill one of my groups, I made a move that would keep it a live, but because Martijn remarked that that move was only reducing my own territory. So, I made another move, but of course I did not make the right follow-up moves, and Ton killed the group. For the second game Ton was given an eight stone handicap. I played this game much better, although Martijn several times saw some good opportunities to make some big wins, I did lose at the end, but not dramatic. Martijn and Ton felt that I screw up during the end-game.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Today, there was an item on a Dutch news site, about who the government of the U.S. had succeeded to get a clause outside a recent law that would forbid the use of torture on foreign terrorist suspects. In a sense the U.S. government is sanctioning the use of torture. Talking about human rights. It looks like foreigners in the U.S. do not have much rights when they are suspects of terrorist crimes, and that they can even be subject of torture. I feel the Dutch government should no deliver any Dutch citizen or foreigner staying in our country to the U.S. in case an internation arrest warrant has been issued for this person. In the Dutch constitution it states that every person arrested in the Netherlands has the right for legal support and a fair trial, no matter whether he is Dutch or not. The use of any form torture is strictly forbidden as a questioning method.

Friday, January 14, 2005


This morning, we took Andy to his paediatrician for his regular check-up. Before his secretary came in, we already "practice" getting on the scales and standing under the measuring lint. While we waited, I also discovered that he can now really count, as he was counting the beads on some toy. When the secretary came in, he was quite happy to get on the scale and watch the numbers. His weight is now 18.6 Kg (with underwear and diaper) and his length is 112.5 cm. According to the growth chart he is doing fine and even getting a little higher. That is good news. Our paediatrician told us that this was going to be our last visit with him, because he had accepted a job elsewhere. Next time we will meet with one of his colleagues, someone we probably already met in the past when Andy was hospitalized.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Theme Hospital

Last Monday, Annabel bought the game "Theme Hospital", and since then has been playing it. Although there is a Dutch explanation on the outside of the case, there was no Dutch language version inside. So now she is playing the English version. She has been bugging me with question what to do in certain situations. I think that the game is good for her, as it requires many different skills to play the game, especially, planning and reasoning.


This evening I went to the university to play Go. Araldo was the first one to arrive with a board, and told us that Rudi was coming later. He also brough to baskets of Chinese stones, which are less shinny than the Japanese glass beads and are flat on one side. (He bought these stones in Beijing last summer when he stayed there for two months for about 7 Euro.) We decided to play a game of Rengo with four of us. Ton and Martijn played against Araldo and me. We lost, probably because of some weak moves I played. It was interesting. Then I played a game against Ton, and because we played with the Chinese stones, he felt that we should use the Chinese handicap rules that state that black may decided where to place his stones. I made four strong corners with two stones in each corner. In the end I won with 6 stones. Being allowed to place the handicap stones yourself, makes it easier to win.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A week in a second

Today, Li-Xia brought Annabel to swimming lessions because I had to work a little longer. I went to catch her, and I arrived at about the same time we left last week. Almost exactly the same people were standing in the lobby, and I suddenly got this strange feeling as if I had just gone outside and come in again and that the whole week had happened in just a second, or was the product of my imagination. I very strange experience indeed.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Finding a parking place

This evening we were having a company meeting and dinner in Deventer. We also went there last year, but when we tried to find a parking place, we discovered that the road that we used before was not blocked. We had to look for an alternative spot, which was not that difficult. We all got out of the car and walked to the ticket machine just to discover that the parking time was limited to two hours, and that we needed to pay for two hours and twenty minutes. One of us made some remark about some funny red light (still switched of) on the building just a few meters further on. We all got into the car and when we continued, we discovered that we just had parked at the start of the local Red Light district. There were about six or seven women sitting behind windows in that street. It is not only in Amsterdam that prostitutes are sitting behind windows. Other cities are Arhnem, Alkmaar, Den Haag, and Utrecht. But many people do not know that in Deventer there is also one small street where they have this. We all had a good laught about this.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


This afternoon I went into the city. The sale is still going on in many shops. I bought two games, Riven and Exile, and the video "K-PAX" for € 11. It has been long ago that I bought something just for myself, apart from a book, that is.

Monday, January 24, 2005

White world

This morning, when we woke-up the world was white with snow. There was about an inch of snow outside. (Later, I heard that there was a snow blizzard in North-East of the U.S. had caused 75 cm of snow in some places.) Annabel was very happy. There is a reasonable chance that the snow will stay because it is getting colder.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

More snow

Most of the snow that fell yesterday had melted away during the day. This morning there was some more snow. This too melted away during the remainder of the day.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Biking through the snow

This morning, when I got my bike, I though I saw some white specks dropping down. By the time I arrived at my office, it had started snowing quite strong.

Friday, January 28, 2005

White patches

When I left my office for home, I noticed that there were some white patches on the street, and I concluded that it snowed again a little. It has been a long time ago that it snowed on so consecutive days. But it was not much, and that while in Southern Europe (and even Northern Africa) there fell so much snow.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Going to the city

Today, we decided to go to the city with all of us. Li-Xia and Andy went by car, and Annabel and I went by bike, because we were going to stay longer. We met in the C&A, where we wanted to look for some trousers for now that the sale was still going on. We could not find any. We decided to try our luck at the V&D. We did find some there. Annabel wanted to take Andy one floor higher to watch the video there. We let them go upstair and started looking through the trousers and determining the size of them, which was difficult because all the trousers were mixed and not all had familiar size lables. Another problem was that the fitting rooms were almost on the other side of the shop. The fitting room I used had two mirrors on opposing walls, which made me aware of the fact that the bald spot on the back of my head had grown larger. Also the signs of my hair becoming thinner are becoming more obvious. Another ten years, and I will be bald on the top of my head. In ended up with selecting three trousers that were okay, after having tried many. While Li-Xia paid for them, I went upstairs. I found Annabel sitting behind a computer with a touch screen playing some game far below her level, and Andy was sitting on the ground looking through DVD's. I told him to put them back. Then some person standing by made some remark that he had been rearranging them very carefully. I immediately believed what they said, and I guess they had not realize that he is mentally handicaped.

We went to McDonalds where I ordered two Happy Meals® and a veggie burger for myself. Li-Xia made Andy drink his "milk" with a straw from the thermos bottle. He finished the whole bottle. The first time. Quite an achievement for him. After having finished lunch, we split up. Annabel and I were going to attend Muziek voor Azie (Music for Asia), a series of benefit performances to raise money for the Tsunami disaster in Asia. Annabel and I attended the following performances:

Around 17:20 we went to the bike shelter to get our bikes out before they would close. Then just after six we went to Camel and had some doner kebab for dinner. (I guess it is now more than seven years ago that it was the last time that I had some doner kebab there. If I remember correctly, it was Li-Xia's mother that we went there for the last time, when Andy was still in the hospital.) Around a quarter to seven we biked home, and when we were almost home, it started to snow. When I later looked out of the window, I noticed some white patches again, just like yesterday. I went to bed early, because I felt rather tired. In Ecclastiastics it says that the ears are never filled with hearing, but I think that sometimes listening to music for a whole day can fill your ears and make you exhausted.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Bill Gates pushing software patents in Europe

Bill Gates visiting the European Union with respect to Software Patents. I wonder why people from the European Union are even allowing some one like Bill Gates to talk with them about an issue that is causing so much division in Europe. What gives him the right to lobby that we European citizens don't have, I wonder.

Sense of humour

This evening, I went to the school of Andy, to talk about his progress. (They really put a lot of in effort in making a nice report and go into great detail explain about everything.) In many ways Andy is one of the worst in his class. His fine motor skills are very bad, his writing is close to scratching. He speaking is probably the worse. But he has a great sense for humour. The teachers told me that he is often the only one that laughs at a joke that they make (for example, when they make a mistake on purpose). He also often gets the giggles and cannot stop laughing anymore. And sometimes he is very ticklish. At those times you cannot touch him anymore or he starts laughing, and sometimes all his muscles become soft from laughing. This evening, right before I left he was having great fun with holding a pocket light against his ear and shouting telephone all the time.

This months interesting links

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