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Diary, November 1998

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Wednesday, November 11, 1998

A candy

This morning Annabel was nagging for a candy. Finally, I gave in, but made her promise she would be sweet. First of all she came back with three candies, saying that it was to dark in the supply closet. I sent her back, but when she returned she refused to eat the candy to my surprise but kept it in her hand.

I began to understand why, when we came outside. `Look, I have a candy' Annabel yelled to our neighbour girl as soon as she saw her. While biking to school, I encouraged Annabel to eat the Candy, but without prevail.

When I had put of her coat off at school, she showed me the candy. I told her to put it the pocket of her coat. She objected that there was sand in the pocket. I wrapped the candy in a plastic bag, and put it in the pocket. When we came in her classroom, she refused to let me go. Finally, her teacher took her over, and I walked away. Outside on the street, sitting on my bike, I waited until she would wave to me through the window as she often does. Some other mother noticed that I was standing outside, and pointed Annabel to me. While we waved, I biked away.

Friday, November 13, 1998

Mysterious girls

This morning it happened again, I met a mysterious girl while biking through the city. She had a smile on her face for some reason. We biked along the same road, waited at the same traffic lights. I wanted to ask her: `Tell me, why are you happy', but I did not have the nerves to do so.

Johan Cruijf

Johan Cruijf is Holland's most famous soccer player ever. Everybody knows him, although he hasn't been playing for a long time. Nowadays, he is famous for his commentaries which he gives during the mid break of the game. It seems that some people like his commentaries better than the game.

This morning, I read that a book has been published with quotes from him. The article telling this suggested that he might become the new management guru, as he sounds arrogant, has some amount of self-mockery, and makes a lot of nonsense remarks, such as: `coincidence is logical'.

Monday, November 16, 1998

Wrong post box slit

Dutch post boxes have two slits. This morning I dumped a letter to my mother-in-law in the wrong slit. Recently, the Dutch postal services (PTT Post) have changed the slits. It used to be the case that the left slit was intended for local mail (usually the city you lived in), and the right slit for all other mail. Mail put in the left slit did not leave town, because they were sorted locally. All other mail was sent to one of the big distribution centers to be sorted. If you put a letter in the wrong slit, next day delivery is no longer guaranteed. You can figure out why.

Recently, however, because of automation of the sorting process, sorting mail for the local cities has become to expansive. The country is no divided in a number of regions, and all mail goes to central sorting center of the region it belongs to. Because of this change in strategy, post boxes now got a slit for mail inside your own region, and one for all other mail. Why not just one slit, you could ask. The mail put in the slit for the whole country is sorted first, and then send (during the night) to the right sorting center of the region it should go to. As soon as this sorting is done, the sorting of the mail for the region starts. While this is done, the mail coming from all the other regions is arriving, and then sorted as well. This strategy allows all mail to be delivered in one day. Except, of course, if you make the mistake to put a letter which was meant for another region in the slit for your own region.

Because the meaning of the slits had changed, the Dutch Postal Services, decided to switch them. So, now the left slit is for all mail outside your own region, and the right one is for the `local' mail. The idea behind this was: lets make the change obvious!

I think it was not such a smart move. They should have used the left slit for `local' mail, and the right one for mail for the rest of the country. Now, if people drop the mail in the slit in which they were used to drop it, it is delayed one day. Otherwise, this would not have happened. Either they did not think about their choice, or we have to conclude that there is much more mail sent to other regions, than to inside your own region, but not to your own city.

I knew that the slits had changed, and yet I dropped my letter in the wrong slit. Later on, I also realized that they did not put the right kind of names above the slits. The slit for mail with your region, has a text saying something like `Zip codes 7000-9999', and the other one says `All other zip codes'.


No beep any more

How much hard disk space do you need to make your computer beep? Application evermore require more memory and hard disk space. This is almost true for all application. On IRIX 6.5 you now need to install the whole sound system (more than 12 Mbytes) in order to make your SGI machine produce a simple beep. Not having a beep is a great handicap.

Wednesday, November 18, 1998

It was a confusing morning this morning. I had to scratch of the ice from the car, which caused some delay in my scedule. Then, at the last moment, I saw that the lunch box Annabel takes with her was still empty, and started to make some sandwich for her to take with her. On the way brining her to school a weasel crossed the bicycle path, just in from of us. At school I noticed that there was no lunch box in her bag. I told her that I would get it. But when I biked back to home, I suddenly realized it was Wednesday, and that she will not have any lunch at school. At home, I opened my bag, and discovered that I had had the lunch box with me all the time. Out of frustration, I threw the bread in the waste bin, thinking that Annabel would not eat it anymore. But the first thing she asked for when we came back in the evening, was for the bread. She ended up making a new sandwidch for herself.

A typical case of cummulative stupid decisions.

Open curtains

I recently changed the route I bike in the evening, because I have to catch Annabel. The new route leads through some small streete where people still keep to the perculiar Dutch custom of keeping the curtains open during the evening. Some way, it is a strange sensation to look in all the living rooms, and see what all these people are doing. Some are watching TV, some play with the kids, and some are having dinner.

It made me realize how many different people are living in a city. If I had to visit all those homes, and to get to know all these people.

Thursday, November 19, 1998

Annabel vomitting and dreaming

In the middle of the night, I heard Annabel call for me, which is a little strange, because usually she comes to our room if she needs something. I found her standing in her room with puke around her neck and on her sleeping bag. It was clear what happened: she had vomitted while lying in bed. We had to wash her hair because it was all dirty.

The rest of the night, I stayed with her. She throw up several more times, but not as much as the first time. Then at the end of the morning, she told me that she had dreamed. I asked her `about what?', and she mentioned `De Vlinder' (which is the day care center she went to), and said something about that everybody had to go inside.


Friday, November 20, 1998

Post boxes (Cont'd)

Yesterday evening, I had to drop a letter, and came across a post box which had the slits in the `old' order. I was very surprised. My first thought was that the PTT had finally decided to swap the slits. So, I immediately went to check another post box, only to find out that it was still in the same order. But this left me with the question why this one mail box had the slits in a different order. Either it was installed `wrong' from the start, or someone exchanged the labels later on.


Squares in squares

Lately, I have been thinking about what is the smallest square in which the squares with sizes 1 to n can be packed. The theoretical size is given by ceil(root(n(n+1)(2n+1)/6))). Below a table is given with some values I have found so far. The column min gives the theoretical minimum, the column found gives the minimum value found (so far), and the column left gives the amouth of space that is left unused.

n min found left
1 1 1 0
2 3 3 4
3 4 5 11
4 6 7 19
5 8 9 26
6 10 11 30
7 12 13 29
8 15 15 21
9 17 18 39
10 20 21 56
11 23 24 70
12 26 27 79
13 29 30 81
14 32 33 74
15 36 36 56
16 39 39 25
17 43 43 64
18 46 47 100
19 50 51 131
20 54 55 155
21 58 58 53
22 62 63 174
23 66 67 165
24 70 71 141
25 75 76 251

(follow-up and correct values)

Wednesday, November 25, 1998


When Li-Xia looked outside this morning to see if there was any ice on the car, she remarked that there was snow outside. Indeed, everything was covered with a thin layer of snow, except for some warm spots on the roofs of the houses. Later on, when I went outside, it felt like it was raining, but actually it was very thin snow melting on my face. It was a piece of cake to clean the car.


Mirror writing

Last Sunday, Annabel had written Andy's name on top of a drawing, when we asked to write her name as well on the sheet. She started with the `A' in the right hand corner of the sheet, and then wrote her name in mirror writing from right-to-left. She writes her name in capitals. What surprised me most, is that she even wrote the capital `N' in mirror. We had some guests, and some people in the room at first did not recognize what she had written. I remember that one person turned the sheet upside down. Some only realized what she had done when they looked at the sheet from the back holding it against the light.

Later, I heared from others that had seen children from her age do the same. Apparently, mirroring is something natural to them. It somehow proofs that they are not writting, but drawing figures.

Andy has Kabuki !?

This afternoon, I was phoned by a clinical geneticus who affirmed to me that Andy has the Kabuki Syndrome. He concluded this from the facial expression he saw on the slides that were taken in August earlier this year. So, now it is official.

(follow-up: Or not?)

Wednesday, November 26, 1998

Dreaming again

This morning, Annabel woke-up complaining that she had dreamt about us leaving her behind while driving away with the car. She says that this is the second time she has been dreaming. What does she mean with this, I wonder? Has she really never dreamt before? Or is it only now she can remember her dreams? What surprises me most is that she calls is dreaming. How did she learn this word? How does she know that what she is `doing' is dreaming?

Wednesday, November 27, 1998

Has Andy Kabuki Syndrome? (Cont'd)

This afternoon, we visited another clinical geneticus, who after seeing Andy felt that we should not yet label Andy as having the Kabuki Syndrome. Andy does not have the typical eyse of a child with the Kabuki Syndrome, something we also had concluded by ourselves. He did agree that we should take it as a working hypothesis that Andy quite likely does have the syndrome, but that this has to be affirm in the future. He suggested that we contant with him again a year from now.


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