Month: March 2004

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The queen mother is dead. Princess Juliana she was called because for a long time now her daughter Beatrix has been the official queen. Now that she has passed away, she will receive the official title of Queen Juliana again. But not until she had been entombed beneath the church in Delft along with all the other former kings and queens of the Netherlands. First an extravagant ceremony and solemn speeches about what a wonderful woman she was, followed by the sad walk as her closest family members disappear into the darkness to pay their last respects. Even the rich and powerful all die some day.

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Hard to believe it, but it is true. My childhood hero Captain Kirk (William Shatner) turns 73 years old this week. How old does that make me then?!

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"The sun evaporates 8 thousand billion tonnes of water each year from the surface of the Amazon jungle - the same amount of energy as half a million atomic bombs."
- Science & Nature Newsletter

Now rather than compare such a wonderful phenomenon of nature with the destructive force of nuclear weapons, I would have preferred a more positive and appropriate comparison. Let's say to lighting up all the major cities for ten years, or to sending the whole world population to mars and back ten times, or to providing pollution-free energy for transportation for the next century, or to whatever. Anything is better than a bunch of atomic bombs whose only purpose (and result) would be to destroy the Amazon jungle and the rest of the surrounding world a hundred times over.

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Alright, so what are all those people doing over there and what are they planning to do? From this distance it is hard to tell, but the motions and gestures hint at something daring and unexpected. Could be something good or could be something just as evil. I might choose to go and join them, or being on the safe side I can keep my distance. Or even back up so I am further away. You never know for sure what is going to happen.

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And then when the wind starts blowing harder,
Trees and blades of grass and other things,
The beard and the mismatched leather cap,
Trotting along the path but not quite...

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Just a bunch of scribbles...Alright so there is this positively charged ball hanging from a string, and the ball weighs 9.2 grams. To the right is a flat metal plate which has a negative charge, causing the ball to be pulled because of the attraction and to hang at a slight angle from perpendicular, e.g. when it is hanging loose without the charged plate there. The vertical distance is 71.7 centimeters and the horizontally displaced distance is 4.3 centimeters. How much force is pulling on the ball?

I assured my son that I could figure this out. Sure. He had been stumped the whole morning, and the fact that he even asked for my help was a sign that it was indeed a tricky problem. I struggled and strained my brain cells, but quickly realized I was not as intrepid nor sharp as I used to be in the good old student days. I got a headache and felt frustrated. Drats.

But I was not about to admit it nor was I going to give up. Never ever.

So I retired to my study, sat down at my desk and drew pictures with arrows and force vectors and so forth. I checked it and double checked it. The answer came to me in about thirty minutes or so. In the past I could have solved this trivial physics problem in no time. With age time slows down. But I had the answer, and it was right.

The answer is: 0.005407 N (= 4.3 cm / 71.7 cm x 0.0092 kg x 9.8 N/kg)

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So I thought that this weekend I could delve somewhat into the fine art of object-oriented Perl, create my own fancy objects and all. But I keep getting the following aggravating error:

"Can't call method "_init" on unblessed reference at Logger.pm line 8."

What the heck does that mean?

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My youngest son is only nine years old and though he may be a bit small for his age, when it comes to sneezing he can pack quite a mighty explosion. The unexpected and ensuing "aaachooooo..." echoes so loudly that the whole house shakes from its very foundation. My father also had a similar "mighty" sneeze. In fact, when the grandson sneezes I can hear the grandfather sneezing along side, almost like a subtle slightly asynchronous echo in time. Back then I would always get overly aggravated, because I felt my father was exaggerating and purposely discourteous to his surroundings. Now I realize that it just runs in the genes, that that is merely a normal tendency required by natural selection, that the fact that my little boy can also sneeze amazingly loudly really has nothing to do with inconsideration. No not at all. The past lives onwards into the future in many mysterious ways.

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When I saw that smallish object over there spiraling down from the sky I wondered if it really could be true.

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When he went over to the counter to pick up his assignment, he was a little surprised when told that he was expected to take that plump duck over to the restaurant on the third floor of the fancy hotel. About halfway there, he felt the softness and warmness and had second thoughts. He became quite attached to this little creature and felt no need to bring it any further to its near future execution for the big fat bellies of all those chinamen. Detour to the left and the great escape that would take him away into the eons of time. Through this desert and arid countryside, past a longish mountain range, along the coast and then to a cove of water which bent inwards just past the knee. When the tide came in, the water level rose quickly and he discovered that he and his duck friend were trapped on an island in the middle of the sea, no hope in sight. The duck was getting thinner and thinner and would soon die. Luckily the water receded just enough to provide a shallow entry to these caves. Had to feed the duck just had too. Finally, grass and twigs and a bunch of dried leaves, and that duck just wolfed it all down gulping and gagging and nearly choking to death. How ironic that would be when and if the little skinny shrinking duck would just suffocate under its own greed or get such an extended belly that it would explode. Better keep on moving before it is too late, the guy was thinking.

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In one way I feel kind of funny using his bike, but then again maybe I should view it as an honor. Kind of like I am carrying on his spirit, although he passed away more than a year ago.

This was his so-called "new" bike which was more than forty-five years old, and while he was alive he took great care in keeping it shiny and in shape.

Now that my bike was stolen last week and I need some form of transportation to get me to the train station and back, his bike becomes a symbolic time saver exactly at the right moment you might say.

Those carry bags on the back of the bike were faded and bleached by decennia of sunlight, and when I first loosened the metal latches and opened them up, it smelled like world war two. As if I had discovered an ancient sarcophagus, opened the lid and got a whiff of two thousand year old air and dust.

So come Monday I will proudly use his bike, carry his spirit with me, knowing that his life was good for more things than one at first realizes.

[Note: "Opa" and "fiets" are Dutch, meaning respectively "Grandpa" and "bike", in case you were wondering.]

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One might say that my specialty is this: "coming in, making sense of things, cleaning up the mess, getting it all up and running again, and finally getting out of there -- all in a wink of the eye."

Hello, goodbye, here you go, see you later...

Actually, that pretty much explains my current assignment. Yes, I indeed got the stint after convincing them enough with my (much less than infinite) knowledge and nice-guy type attitude, that I have been hired for 1 month or more (I hope). A telecom company is having technical problems with a mobile service they are developing and they required someone to come in, make sense of things, clean up the mess, (see above), etc.

So I am pretty pleased about it. In fact, very very pleased, feeling refreshed and invigorated after my first week there. Even if it is pretty technical stuff (which by the way I can handle) and I am the pseudo- old fart guy surrounded by a bunch of computer whiz-kids under 30 years, I am having a fine time of it.

Make the best and continue, young man. And go for it.

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I cannot believe what a fantastic and wonderful daughter I have.

She is "so super cool" and nice to me all of the time, respectful, creative and thoughtful of others. Brilliant and exceptional in most everything she does. She will be an amazing success in life, that's for sure. Probably a future famous corporate manager (voted woman of the year five years in a row) telling everyone what to do or else. Is there anything else to add?

[Marlies made me write that, complaining that I never put anything interesting in my blog any more, and worse of all nothing about her.]

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I am now a full-fledged Perl programmer with a real life assignment about which I feel happy and relieved. Looks like alot of fun as well as a challenging project during which I can hone my programming skills in Perl even more and hopefully impress folks with my abilities so that they will either want to keep me on or decide to put me on another relevent assignment. Thanks alot Perl for making my life that much better.

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Just for the heck of it, I decided to stick a so-called random button on this blog to give folks a chance to jump around this blog in a more precarious and unexpected way.

If you look closely, you will see the bluish button on the right margin, and placed randomly (note the meta pun) all over the place. The button looks like this:

So how does it work? you might be wondering. Well for those Perl gurus out there it is nothing more than a simple script which scans a given directory, grabs a random HTML-file from the listing and does a good old redirect via the HTTP-header.

Of course, in order for this little code snippet to work, you have to have CGI enabled on your web server, e.g. included as part of your subscription.

Confused? Then here is a little code which I hope helps you folks out:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
#
#  rand_redirect.pl
#
# Redirect for MovableType where a user will be sent
# to a random blog entry, category or whatever the
# HTML-file is present in the archive directory.
#
use strict;

my $dir = "archives";
my $rootdir = "/Blogger";

use CGI;

my $q = new CGI;

if (opendir(DX, $dir))
{
  my @allfiles = sort grep { $_ ne '.' and $_ ne '..'
      and ($_ =~ /\.html$/i) } readdir DX;
  closedir DX;
  my $num = (@allfiles);
  if ($num > 0)
  {
    my $n = rand($num);
    my $fname = $allfiles[$n];
    print $q->redirect("$rootdir/$dir/$fname");
  }
}

The last step is the easiest. Decide where on the page you want the button to appear, and just add the following code there:

<input type="button" value="Random"
  onclick="document.location='/cgi-bin/rand_redirect.pl'">

Hope this little code snippet helps someone out there whenever and however that may ever be. Please tell me what you think.

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Good news and bad news. Just when it looks like the chances are pretty good that I will be starting a new contracted project next week at a major telecom company in Amsterdam, my bike gets stolen. I will have to figure out a replacement mode of transportation in order to get to the train station in time next week. Funny how things always seem to balance out that way.

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Alright, so tomorrow is the big day. Go for, it young man.

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Indeed, initial impressions indicated that this was an example of deathless revision at its finest. Yet it was difficult to prove beyond any doubt that this could ever be possible. But it was and it still is. Mostly that is what happens, so it is merely human nature which pushes one's logical manner of thinking the other way around. In the end, with little consideration of how it all might better be, the deathless revision provides incentive and incremental improvements. Whichever way one chooses to look at it.

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Let's just say that I have decided to dedicate the rest of the week on preparing for my important presentation this Friday.

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Just click on the movie below to start.

So you see, technology will never get the upper hand, unless of course we are not extra careful and alert for possible errors and/or changes of plan. Be warned.

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Information

This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2291 entries and as many as 1876 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.