# Diary, March 1995

 Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

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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


## Wednesday, March 1, 1995

At noon, while talking to
Susan, I was playing with the chestnut I keep in my pocket: throwing it in the air and catching it. At one point I dropped it, and I heard a crack. When I picked it up, I found it was broken in two peaces. I spotted it on a Sunday while biking home from church. It must have been in the fall of 1993 (early September of late August), that I picked it up.
(I picked it up, because about two year earlier I also had kept a chestnut for some time, and had got attached to it, but it got lost. I had picked that one up, because it had dropped straight before my feet, while I was walking down the street.)
Since I picked up the chestnut in 1993, I have kept it in my pocket, and it has travelled with me around the world, to China and Finland. Susan suggested that maybe I can glue it together.

I even carried the chestnut on my wedding day, for a special reason.
According to a Chinese tradition, the family members of a bride ask for some symbolical payment when the groom comes to the house of the bride on the day of the wedding. For practical reasons it was not possible for the family of my wife to come over to Holland for the occasion of the wedding. (As a substitute we went to China for our honeymoon.) But Li-Xia, my wife, told me that some of her friends might represent her family and request for a payment.
I though about telling them that I had something very precious in my hand, something that I even had not given to Li-Xia (who had tried to steal it from me in the days before, thinking that it idea of carrying a worthless chestnut with me was a little silly). And if they would have agreed, I would have given them the chestnut.
But there was nobody to request a payment, so I kept it.

(follow-up)

### Tea in the afternoon

The sun shines through the wet windows, as the sky has suddenly cleared. I see my glass cup with freshly brewed Ceylon tea, glowing red-brown in the bright light of the sun. (I am becoming poetic here.)

### Rain

It is pouring rain again. If one thing is unreliable in Holland is the weather. I always take a rain coat with me, when I am on my bike.

### Sun

I had to close the blinds, because the sun is shining on my screen. Its only half an hour later and the sky is blue for about 75%.
I wonder what kind of weather it will be when I go home.

## Monday, March 6, 1995

Since last
Wednesday I did not write anything.

On my desk there is a copy of Webster's Compact Dictionary of Synonyms'. I am looking for such a dictionary with Computer Science concepts. I am beginning to believe that computer science might be one of the most abstract, exact sciences, as it deals with ideas and the manipulation of ideas.

This evening, the sky was clear. I was surprised by how long it stayed light. I had the feeling that the evening had not come yet, and that there was still a lot of time.

I just took off my wedding ring. About once every 4 months, the finger at which I have the ring, start hurting for no apparent reason. So, I take it of, and put it on the next morning.
In China they do not know the custom of wedding rings. When we were in Beijing during our honeymoon, several of the girls serving us in the shops, would ask Li-Xia, whether she was my translator. Quite funny if you know that her major at the university has been mathematics and computer science.
In one shop one of the girls said to Li-Xia that she should advice me to buy a certain shawl. Then she asked her: "For whom is it?". She answered: "for me, I am his wife".

## Tuesday, March 7, 1995

This morning
Li-Xia asked me where my ring was, as it did not lay on the cupboard behind the bed, where I had put it. For some reason I immediately assumed it was laying under the bed, and that I had to remove the matrass and move the bed frame to get it. While doing this, Annabel started screaming. When I finally had removed the matrass and moved the bed, the ring was not there. At that moment Li-Xia moved some book by which she revealed the ring.

## Thursday, March 9, 1995

The last days I did some hacking again. You can now see all the pages on the WWW that I visited recently: a Demo (Not operational anymore). This is my first interactive page, using the CGI interface. As I know myself, more will follow.

## Friday, March 10, 1995

In my school there was a warning sign on one of the biology class rooms, saying:
Beware of the Drosophila Melanogaster.
Drosophila Melanogaster is the Latin name for the fruit fly. So nothing to be afraid of. This evening we had guests, and I made a remarked that lately I had seen many of them in my house. As an example I pointed at big lamp in the room, in which many dead flies were visible through the glass.
Later this evening, one of my guests, by accident looked to one of my plants, and discovered that the whole soil was covered with many of them. They had come out of the soil of the plant. So, I would say: Be aware of the Drosophila Melanogaster.

(follow-up 1 & 2)

## Saturday, March 11, 1995

The newsgroup
alt.hackers is one of the newsgroups that I follow. So far I have not been able to post any posting. But after today I do have a ObPlumbingHack.
As long as I can remember the hot water tap in our shower room has been difficult to close. But last week it became too bad. It became impossible for me to close it, without hurting my fingers. (It is amazing what people can do to them selves, just out of laziness.) So, this afternoon, one hour before the shops would close, I got some tools, and opened up the tap, after I had shut the hot water supply off. I took out the rubber, went to a shop and bought a new rubber, for 50 cents, and put it in. But to my surprise it did not solve the problem. The tap was still hard to close. I realized that the tap had become old, and that it would not push the rubber far enough down to close it.
Now comes my hack: I went to my box with little unusefull thing, found some plastic thing, got a sharp knife and made a plastic ring in the form of the rubber. I just put the ring under the rubber, and installed every thing. And it worked.

Why was I so late in fixing this? Because the whole day I thought about the following sentence in a paper that I am working on:

It is a well known result from the field of linear algebra that
\sum_{j = 0}^l p_j N^j equals the zero matrix when
\sum_{j = 0}^l p_j x^j is the characteristic polynomial of the matrix N.
(The characteristic polynomial can be found by calculating the determinant of N - \lambda I`.) I felt that this statement must be true, but I could not come up with a proof. So I went through all my old college books, but I could not find anything similar. I tried some proofs myself, but I just could not fit it. It was driving me crazy. Such an apparent simple result (at least that is what I stated in the sentence) and then I could not proof it.
Finally, I asked Li-Xia for help. (She has a B.Sc. in mathematics.) She looked through some of her college books (in Chinese) and came up with a proof, based on some ideas she got from reading through the books. (I had looked in this books by myself already. Quite funny, I cannot read Chinese but it still makes sense, somehow.)

So, now can we sleep quietly, because we both cannot sleep if we have a silly problem like this in our head.

## Tuesday, March 21, 1995

Oops, it has been some time since I wrote something here. I have been busy (what an excuse). One thing I can say, the
Drosophila Melanogasters are still flying around the house. It seemed that other plant were also effected.

Last weekend (and yesterday) I spend a long time on programming the news to HTML converter again. It still is not anything near to generating HTML, but it is slowly improving. I had forgotten how hard and addictive programming can be.

## Monday, March 27, 1995

### Drosophila Melanogaster, Part III

Yesterday we killed at least 50 of them in about 10 minutes. Imagine me going round the living room, vacuum cleaning the ceiling. Now that is what I did. It is more than two weeks ago, we spotted the primary source.

(follow-up)

Last Sunday we got summer-time again. There are always people who do not notice it. Annabel is still not used to it. But for an almost 6 months old girl, you can not expect to have any knowledge about the clock.

The funny thing is that it was just snowing. So with the summer time we get winter weather.
I read that next year we will have summer time for 7 months. This applies for whole Europe. So, maybe it is better to say that we have winter time for 5 months.

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