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Diary, February 2008

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Simple racing horse game

In the past week, I investigated a very simple version of the Racing horse game. In this version, the players can only have one horse running. And as soon as they can arrive at the end or jump over it, they win. I wanted to know if the short track would give a better chance for winning than the long track and I found some interesting results. I wrote a simple program to calculate the chances. My first discovery was that the longer track gives you a greater chance of getting one of your horses at the end. For the long track that chance is (about) 40.9%, where as for the sort track it is only 37.3%. From this you can calculate that in 37% of the games both players use up all their horses before reaching the finish. Which means that the game is undecided. The change that a horse on the short track reaches the finish with no horse on the long track reaching the finish is 22%. The other way around the chance is 25.7%. Now when on both tracks a horse reaches the finish, the short track has a slight preference, but it is not sufficient to win the game. The overall chance for the short track to win is 30.1% against 32.1% for the long track. In 0.7% of the cases both horses arrive at the same turn at the finish. So, if you are smart, you tell your opponent that you are willing to take the longer track, but that as a compensations you want to start first. Then your odds to win the game are 32.8%. It sound counter intuitive that taking the shorter track is an advantage. The reason is that the density of the holes is larger. This becomes more obvious if you think about a very short track with many holes. It is obvious that the placing of the holes also makes a difference. Any concentration of holes is a big disadvantage.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Snowy rain and rainbow

This afternoon, I had to bring Annabel to a birthday party of a friend. When I drove back from there, it started to rain. But I soon noticed that the rain looked a little like snow flakes. I did not notice any snow staying on the ground or trees, which did not come as a surprise, because it is much too warm. This is the first time this winter that there is something resembling snow falling from the sky. Rather disappointing. About half way the sun appeared between the clouds while it was still raining. I looked to the side to see if I could see any rainbow, but there was not any. I guess that snowy rain does not make good rainbows. A little further however, I did notice a fragment of a rainbow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Joran van der Sloot

This morning, I read that prof. dr. Ernst Stolz (68) thinks that Natalee Holloway died from a very rare allergic reaction to prostrate liquid. To be honest, a had to laugh about this explaination. If the story of Joran van der Sloot is true, then it is far more likely that Natalee died from an overdosis of the party drug GHB. GHB is a very notorious drug because it is so easy to get an overdosis, and especially in combination with alcohol it can be very dangerous. Personally, I think it is this part of the "confession" of Joran that makes it quite credible, because he gives a description of the symptoms without knowing the cause. As far as I know, nobody every made any statement about Natalee using GHB, but if someone would come forward that makes a statement about this, it is quite likely that Natalee was still alive after the shaking that Joran described. (GHB can cause seizures and coma.) (The explaination of prof. Stolz also conflicts with Joran's statement that she started to shake just when he wanted to ask her to give him a blow job, which makes it unlikely that she every contacted his sperm.)

Although many people are convinced that Joran's confession is true, I am not absolutely sure about it. Especially if you realize that Joran was an addictive poker player (already for many years) and often played with big money (thousands of Euro's), one can realize that he would like to make an impression on a business men that offers him pot and discusses with him the possibility of joint criminal activities. The fact that Joran and Patrick kept on sending SMS messages in using Poker slang up until the broadcast on Sunday evening, seem to support this. It seems that Joran is willing to talk to the police and make statements showing that his earlier "confession" cannot be true. One of such statements is that the payphone he supposedly used is a credit card payphone that can only be used to phone to the America. Personally, I think it is quite unlikely that Joran will be arrested and convicted. I which case he could make a case against Peter R. de Vries for violating his privacy. It is likely that Joran will not be able to live a normal life in the Netherlands for the coming years, as some people already have shown the willingness to lynch him.

€ 130

This evening, I attended the monthly meeting organized by the local Alzheimer's Disease association. Usually, I go by bike, but because I was a little late and because the weather looked rainy, I decided to go by car. The building was on a oneway street and I had to make some detour to arrive from the right direction. I was already a little late and noticed that there were many empty parking places but that all had some sign above them indicating that these were disabled parking places. But because it was evening and because they were all empty, I thought I would be safe. I cannot remember ever having parked on such a parking place for more than a few minutes. When the eveing was over, it was raining terribly and when I ran to the car, I noticed a small piece of paper behind the wiper. It was completely soaked and while sitting in the car I tried to read what it said. After some studying, I found the amount: € 130. When the paper had dried up, I could read that the ticket was written at 19:37 by the officer with the number 2926 for not showing the proper permit while being parked on a disabled parking place. I guess that the next time I will be going by bike again. It is more than ten years ago since I got my last parking ticket.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Not the only one

This morning, when I told about the traffic ticket that I got yesterday, I heard that a colleague had got a traffic ticket at exact the same place for the same offense. It immediately lifted my feelings, that I am not the only one who thought it would be safe. I think that the lesson that I have learn is that if you think that it is safe, it is likely that you are not the only one, and that for that reason someone might already have discovered the pattern and makes use of it. I guess that the officer who gave me the ticket visits this place on a regular basis.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chinese New Year

Today is the first day of the year 4705, a rat year, according to the Chinese calendar.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

First day of the spring

Today, the weather was very nice. The maximum temperature in Twente was 13.7 degrees Celsius, which is very high. I think that many people considered this as the first day of the spring. This night the temperature may drop below zero.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sitting outside

Today, it was the first time this year that my colleagues went outside to sit in the sun during lunch time. The sky is blue and there is almost no wind. Although the official temperature was about 13 degrees Celsius, but it felt much warmer when I went outside to have a short look at them. Last year, it was on March 12 that they went outside for the first time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Since Friday evening, I have been hit with the flue. On Saturday morning, my body temperature was 38.7 degrees Celsius, according to the digital thermometer that I use. It has been a long time ago since it has been that high. On Saturday, I did not do much. On Sunday morning, my temperature was 38.2 degrees Celsius. In the afternoon, it went up a little to 38.4. Yesterday, it was 37.8 in the morning and 37.9 in the afternoon. This morning it was 37.1, which may seem reasonable normal, but on my digital thermometer, my default body temperature measures around 36.2. I did feel beter than yesterday, but not good enough for starting to work again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Playing Go

This evening, I went to the university to play Go. When I arrived, Taco was just ordering some tea for himself and asked me what I wanted to drink. Because there was nobody else we decided for a game, where I got eight stones ahead. A little later Araldo arrived and much later, Rudy came as well and started a game against Araldo. At about two thirds of the game, I started to make some big mistakes. When we started to count, I made some remark that I would have no points left, and that is exactly what happened. Taco got 59 points.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chinese Wooden Puzzle

In the past week, I let a program calculate all the solutions for the Chinese Wooden Puzzle using three pieces for all possible type of pieces, except the U and T piece, inside a 9 by 7 frame. A total of 286768 solutions were found, with 122836 different color patterns. A total of 30709 unique solutions were found. One of the most 'connected' solution found was:

And the least 'connected' solution was:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Least connected

This evening, I applied the algorithm that I had implemented to determine the most and least connected solutions of the Chinese Wooden Puzzle inside a 9 by 7 frame to the earlier solutions. This algorithm simple counts the number of neighbouring squares with the same colours. If there are many neighbours with the same colour, it means that the pieces of the same colour are more closely together. The pieces are least connected if the number of neighbours with the same colour is as low as possible. I discovered that both for the 6 by 7 and the 6 by 10 frame their is exactly one solution with the lowest possible number of connections. These solutions are:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Playing Go

This evening, I went (alone) to the university to play Go. Shortly after I arrived, Araldo came and we decided to play against each other where I would get six stones ahead. It felt like fighting all the time. About half way the game, I felt that he had got to much of the center. In the last part of the game, I made some mistakes, and after losing about 30 points, I decided to resign. I have to admit that lately I feel less and less motivated to play Go, also because it seems that Annabel has lost interest.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wilders film

Geert Wilders plans on broadcasting a highly critical film about the Qu'ran. Although the contents of the film, with the name Fitna, is not known, it already has been drawing reaction from around the world. Today, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has urged Geert Wilders to consider the possible consequences of his planned anti-Qur'an film. He stressed that Mr Wilders cannot ignore the fact that it was already provoking heated reactions around the world. The full statement of the Prime Minister, in Dutch is: What bothers me about this statement is that our Prime Minister is suggesting that Geert Wilders will be, to some extend at least, responsible for the violence that his film could cause. But it should be clear that any form of violence is always the full responsability of those who express the violence. As a reaction, Geert Wilders said: "The cabinet is capitulating to Islam. I will never, ever do so." Yesterday evening, Arabist Professor J.J.G. Jansen said that it would indeed by a capitulation to Islam if the government would forbid this film.


This months interesting links

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