Month: July 2010

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Too often one is so consumed by a jungle of intertwined thoughts that the beauty of the nearby surroundings is completely foresaken.

Having tried to solve an especially complicated problem for the last couple of days already, I needed an escape. I decided to take an extended lunch break this time by walking further than normal along the canals of Amsterdam. It didn't matter where as long as I stopped tackling that ornery mountain of code for a bit, return to normalcy.

Keizersgracht.jpg
View of the Keizersgracht where I work.

The walk was alright I guess, getting away from it all. When I crossed the last bridge on my return to the office, I was at once struck by a wonderful, serene scene of peaceful movements. The gentle splashing of the tourists in the paddle boat is what woke me. Right there in front of me and I had missed it completely when walking earlier the other way. I took this picture so that I would not forget the awe of that special moment.

Mo more than five seconds after I snapped this picture using my mobile phone, the answer to the problem came to me in a flash. Better get back quickly before I forget.

That's the building where I work in the distance on the left right about the middle of the photograph.

Also for the sake of completeness notice on the right of the picture the girl bicycling ever so swiftly going to who knows where.

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The popularity of a given next generation technology is very fickle, and its success or failure depends on many random and unexpected events independent of what logical reasoning would lead us to choose.

The best does not necessarily beat all, and the final winner is usually not by definition the best solution for mankind. More often than not it is the lucky player who takes home all of the chips hands down.

In the end we unknowingly become locked into this randomly chosen technology whether we like it or not. Thanks to a couple of extremely rich lucky winners.

Nature throws a bunch of random events our way. The fittest techies are the species that survives, has more children and spreads the geeky DNA all over the place.

There must be a better way, or not?

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Hi

There seems to be some confusion on the current resting place of Kiffin Rockwell, some say that his body was exhumed from Luxeuil-les-bains and reinterred at the Lafayette Espadrille Memorial near Paris. (see findagrave)

I wonder which is correct
Good question. Any old website doesn't necessarily have to contain accurate information.

All I know is that I've been to his real resting place in Luxeuil-les-bains two times and seen it for myself.

Also the simple fact that there is a yearly ceremony there to pay Kiffin tribute, plus the fact that in the village museum there's more factual data, tends to make me believe that findagrave isn't very trustworthy.

By the way, why are you interested in Kiffin Yates and what brought you to my homepage?
Thank you for replying so promptly. An acquaintance is staying in Luxeuil-les-Bains and was photographing the four Commonwealth War Graves for me, he noticed your namesake's grave with the plaque and photographed this too.

My insatiable curiosity took over and by "Googling" I found your website, so here we both are.
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Normally the week just before I leave for summer vacation, I spend hours on end desperately searching for some interesting books to read. Usually I just collect another huge pile of literature to explore while sunning on the beach or reclining on the balcony of our resort hotel in some faraway exotic country. This time it'll be on the Algarve Coast in Portugal.

However, over the years I've collected so many unread books from these previous bookstore excursions, that I've decided not to look for anything new. There already here surrounding me on the bookshelves aching to be considered. Please pick me, oh I'll be such a good book to you, please.

I'll simply have a look through all of my unopened hardcovers and paperbacks. Hopefully I can come up with a good healthy selection, balancing perhaps a couple fiction titles, one computer tome and a history book also.

I've been keen on reading the new 50th year anniversary English translation of "The Tin Drum" by Gunter Grass, so I'll bring that along. Also the latest hardcover "At Home" by Bill Bryson, looks interesting. And then there's Kafka's "Metamorphosis and Other Stories" as well as "Mortal Combat" by Michael Burleigh. Just in case, I'll also bring along the latest edition of "Effective Perl Programming" just to keep my mind well oiled.

Bringing too many books along for vacation can also be a problem, as it can be hard to decide which book to start. You end up switching endlessly back and forth, getting so stressed out reading multiple lines of thought, that you end up reading nothing. Except those cheap puzzle magazines you happened to pick up at the airport, which involve minimal concentration, and they are fun and relaxing also.

Will also bring along an extra set of pencils, erasers and a good pencil sharpener.

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These days it is not very often that a new and exciting Perl book comes along. That's why I was very excited when my Amazon.co.uk box arrived by post the other day.

I gleefully ripped the cardboard box open and held in my very own hands the recently released Effective Perl Programming, 2nd edition. Twice the thickness of the first edition and jam-packed with even more useful information.

This is a fantastic read which covers just about every aspect of Perl needed to program like the pros. Myself having had quite some experience with Perl was pleasantly surprised to learn new and interesting tidbits and other gems of information. Since having already read the book from cover to cover a couple times, I now keep it close at hand for reference purposes.

This wonderful book can be useful for beginners although it's pretty detailed and technical at times, but it's real use I believe is for experienced folks like myself who want to refresh their memories, extend their horizons, and recharge their enthusiasm for exploring new and possibly dangerous territories.

Here's an example of one of those one-liner gems, see if you can figure out what it does:

@a[ map { $_ * 2 + 1, $_ * 2 } 0 .. ( $#a / 2 ) ] = @a

From Chapter 2, Item 17 we find the following quote which appropriately summarizes one of the important philosophies: Perl is a "human" language in that it has a context-dependent syntax.

Finally, here are some other interesting places you might want to explore:

I can recommend you get the book also. Have fun.

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I really like programming languages that allow you to think less without compromising the quality of your coding practices. Take for instance the new smart match operator '~~' which was introduced in the latest Perl releases.

if ( '123.0' ~~ 123 ) { ... } # String and number: TRUE

You don't have to keep trying to remember if a given scalar is a string or a number or 'numish' (both), sometimes wrongly using the standard operators ( eq, ne, lt, ==, >= ) in the wrong places causing bugs which are hard to track down.

Don't forget to enable this functionality by including the following in your code:

use 5.010;

Or you can enable the feature by calling Perl with the '-E' option at the command line.

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This is a little bit creepy, but my early morning train is almost completely empty. Has there been some kind of nuclear holocaust I'm missing out on? Hopefully when I arrive in Amsterdam, there'll be many more kind folks milling about and bumping into me.

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So there I am ready to tee off on the par four sixteenth hole, trying not to think too hard that I'm playing even par for the day. Since I started playing golf again three years ago, I've never made it this far playing all even for the day.

It's been quite a round until now, and I want so badly to keep up the momentum. Not by forcing it, but by simply letting it just happen. Do my best by concentrating just hard enough without messing things up by doing something stupid. Follow the groove, young man.

I punch a low three iron into the wind down the right side of the fairway, and the ball goes a bit farther right than I would have liked. It's still safe, but the approach shot has to be kept low to avoid the overhanging branches. I choose to execute the classic chip and run. The ball is heading straight for the pin, but it takes a bad bounce to the left, ending up in the bunker. With a nice clean sweep of my trusty sand wedge, the ball skits out of the trap nicely, rolls just past the hole, leaving me a four footer. The balls lips out on the right giving me a bogey five. Darn it, I go one up for the day.

Hole-17.jpg
Hole 17, where it all happened.

Alright, just shake it off young man. Two easy holes to go. I've had more than my share of amazing putts and saved pars, the laws of probability are speaking, so just let this bogie go by. Still, I want to play it safe on the seventeenth and pull out my three iron again. It's a short par four, and even if I miss the three iron, I'll still have at least an eight iron to the green.

Then I make a crucial mistake, a bad judgment call, why I do not know, but it here goes ...

I turn to my playing partner and tell him, "You know, I'm not out here to play some mickey mouse game of golf. I'm here to play like a man, be a true hero on these last two holes." He looks impressed, and I do not want to disappoint my biggest fan of the day.

I pull out my driver and I'm feeling strong. I crush the ball, but pull it badly to the left. The ball takes one bounce before disappearing into the high grass. My provisional does the same, maybe ten yards further and bounces twice as far into the high grass. The second provisional flies down the middle of the fairway, way down there. Gasp.

Thank the fairway gods that I'm somehow able to find my first ball. However, it's buried under a thick bush, meaning I must take an unplayable and take a drop. From that position, I can do no more than hit an easy wedge to the right side of the fairway, leaving what I hope will be an easy chip and run to the hole. I duff the ball badly and it barely rolls to the front of the green. I'm left with a very, very long putt to the hole which is way back, uphill and breaks significantly to the right. I smack the ball and it looks right, has enough speed, but rolls too far past the hole. I miss and it's a three putt giving me a triple bogie seven.

Am I falling apart or what? Why does this always happen to me? Thank God that this nightmare hole is over with, let me get on with my life. Miraculously, I pick up my ball out of the hole and feel like I've been recharged, a needed catharsis from pent up energy has made me stronger somehow.

The eighteenth hole is waiting for me. I pull out the three iron again and blast the ball just right of the fairway trap on the left. I'm thinking that if I now put it close to the hole, I can make up for the disastrous previous hole by sinking a birdie. The wedge goes high and bounces just left of the flag, leaving me a five footer for a birdie. The ball fails to break an iota and lips out, meaning that I have to be happy with an honorable par.

The day ends. I can now turn in my scorecard: 37+38=75. Not bad for an almost perfect round. Isn't golf an amazing sport?

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One often wonders how people can be so overly eager to attach much value and meaning to quotations that seem like fairly insignificant collections of random words.

On my way home driving on the highway from Rotterdam this afternoon, I passed this large white van with all kinds of bible quotations plastered across the sides and back of the vehicle.

Perhaps for some this is a strategic manner of preaching worthwhile thoughts to non-believers, but it looked more to me like a waste of effort and paint.

"... and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee."

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Over here they call them brandnetels and this ornery plant is all over the place, mostly along the edges of the fairway where you do not want to be.

You can't help but touching them. If you need to bend down and identify your ball, when taking your practice swing, simply addressing the ball in the midst of the high grass. If you happen to be wearing shorts and inadvertently allow your baby-skinned legs to rub the leaves of this evil green contraption of nature, you'll be sorry.

The stinging sensation is subtle at first and then by the time you reach the green it's burning your skin beyond repair. If you happen to be sweating as well then you might as well forget trying to concentrate for the important putt to save par.

Sitting home enjoying a healthy dinner and reminiscing about a round of golf well done feels good, except for that extreme itchiness and burning sensation on your legs, hands and arms.


Urtica dioica (Latin for I'm burning)

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There are enough world tragedies out in the real world which are thousands of times worse than that which overcomes us.

All those other poor souls are more often than not resilient enough to survive such unimaginable tragedies, to stand up again and lead more successful lives than us.

So what gives? Who's right?

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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.