Eric D. Schabell: October 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween with my baby girl!

Being as this was the first Halloween that my daughter could go Trick-or-Treating, I wanted to make it fun. I started a few months ago by checking with the various neighborhood families here if they would be interested (in the Netherlands it is not really a known holiday) and many seemed up for it. We have several families with small kids around the age of my daughter and they thought it would be fun.

So I proceeded to put together some basic Halloween information (see below) for the Dutch people to get an idea of what it is all about. This flyer I passed out a few days before Halloween and asked them to put it in the window if you wanted to have us stop by.

We ended up with 5 kids, 2 baby’s in their strollers and 6 parents. We hit about 10 houses, some that didn’t even have the flyer in the window as it was just too much fun! The kids had a great time and scored enough candy to keep them sick for weeks. Next year we are going to include the surrounding streets and make this a bigger event!

Halloween in the USA
(An bit of extra information for those wondering what it is all about...)

Halloween did not become a holiday in America until the 19th century. The transatlantic migration of nearly two million Irish following the Irish Potato Famine (1845–1849) brought the holiday and its customs to America. When the holiday was observed in 19th­century America, it was generally in three ways. Scottish­American and Irish ­American societies held dinners and balls that celebrated their heritages, with perhaps a recitation of Robert Burns' poem "Halloween" or a telling of Irish
legends. Home parties would center around children's activities, such as bobbing for apples and various divination games, particularly about future romance. And finally, pranks and mischief were common on Halloween.

There is little documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween in America, or elsewhere, before 1900. Mass­produced Halloween costumes did not appear in stores until the 1950s, when trick­ or treating became a fixture of the holiday, although commercially made masks were available earlier.

In the United States, Halloween has become one of the most profitable holidays, next to Christmas, for retailers. In the 1990s many manufacturers began producing a larger variety of Halloween yard decorations; prior to this a majority of decorations were homemade. Some of the most popular yard decorations are jack­o'­lanterns, scarecrows, witches, orange and purple string lights, inflatable decorations such as spiders, pumpkins, mummies, vampires and other monstrous creatures, and window and door decorations. Other popular decoration are foam tombstones and gargoyles. The sale of candy and costumes are also extremely important during this time period. Halloween is marketed not just to children but also to adults. The most popular Halloween costumes for adults are, in order: witch, pirate, vampire, cat, and clown. On many college campuses, Halloween is a major celebration, with the Friday and Saturday nearest October 31 hosting many costume parties.

In 2005, 80 percent of adults planned to give out candy to trick­or­treaters, and 93 percent of children planned to go trick­or­treating. In many towns and cities, trick­or­treaters are welcomed by lighted porch lights. In some large or crime­ridden cities, however, trick­ or treating is discouraged, forbidden, or restricted to staged trick­or­treating events within one or more of the cities' shopping malls, in order
to prevent potential acts of violence against trick­or­treaters.

Those living in the country may hold Halloween parties, often with a bonfire or, in some years, the older Irish custom of building two bonfires, with the celebrants passing between them. These parties usually involve games (often traditional games like bobbing for apples, searching for candy in a similar manner to Easter egg hunting), a hayrack ride (often accompanied by a scary story and one or more
masked and costumed people hiding in the dark to jump out and scare the riders), and treats (usually a bag of candy and/or homemade treats).

The Legend of Jack­O'­Lantern

The Irish brought Jack­O'­Lantern to America. Jack was a legendary, stingy drunkard. He tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree for a juicy apple and then quickly cut the sign of the cross into the tree trunk, preventing the Devil from coming down. Jack made the Devil swear that he wouldn't come after his soul in any way. The Devil promised. However, this did not prevent Jack from dying. When he arrived at the gates of heaven, he was turned away because he was a stingy, mean drunk.
Desperate for a resting place, he went to the Devil. The Devil, true to his word, turned him away. "But where can I go?" pleaded Jack. "Back where you come from," spoke the Devil. The night was dark and the way was long, and the Devil tossed him a lighted coal from the fire of Hell. Jack, who was eating a turnip at the time, placed the coal inside and used it to light his way. Since that day, he has traveled the world over with his Jack­O'­Lantern in search of a place to rest.

Irish children carved out turnips and potatoes to light the night on Halloween. When the Irish came to America in great numbers in the 1840s, they found that a pumpkin made an even better lantern, and so this "American" tradition came to be.

Trick­or­Treat How To

  1. Kids dress up as a 'trickster' (pirate, ghost, witch, cowboy, princess, etc).
  2. Kids bring bag to hold treats.
  3. Look for house with front porch light on.
  4. Knock on door / ring door bell.
  5. When door opens, say/yell “Trick – or – Treat!”
  6. The person should give you something nice (preferably candy!).

I don't get what does ''trick or treat'' mean?

Question: When you say ''trick or treat'':
  • what do you do when they tell you ''trick''?
  • what do you do when they tell you ''treat''?
Answer: It comes from the fact that Halloween is honoring the spirits that are believed to roam the earth, and are tricksters.

Trick: are you going to play a prank on me?
Treat: Not if you give me a treat.

Friday, October 20, 2006

World Series Game 1 party!

Since my buddy Bas and I spent a night watching playoff baseball at his house, we have decided to catch a live World Series game together at my house too.

Tomorrow night, live at 0100 hours our time we will be tucking into some hotdogs and beers while cheering on the Detroit Tigers in Game 1. Go Tigers! ;-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jabber connection for GTalk

I have been having to search the Internet each time I want to setup a client to use GTalk, so have decided to post here the general information I need to setup any jabber client:
  • Add a new jabber account.
  • Enter your screenname, everything before
  • You need to login to the server
  • If supported by client, try to use TLS
  • Connection server is
  • Login with GMail password and you are set!

Nice joke

Since i have not had much to report on the Mini front (it runs, and keeps on running without problems for quite some time now), I thought I would post this joke I saw on our local mini mailinglist:

A boss walked into the office one morning not knowing that his zipper was down, and his fly wide open. His secretary walked up to him and said, “Boss this morning when you left your house, did you close your garage door?” This was not a phrase that her boss understood, so he went into his office looking a bit puzzled.

When he was about done with his paper work, he suddenly noticed that his zipper was not zipped up. He zipped up and remembering what his secretary had told him, finally understood. He then intentionally went out to ask for a cup of coffee from his secretary.

When he reached her desk, he said, “When you saw the garage door open did you see my jaguar parked in there?” The secretary smiled for a moment and said, “No, Boss, I didn’t. All I saw was a Mini with 2 flat tires.”


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Winter storage solution for my bike!

I found a nice hang up system for about 6 euros to put my racing bike up out of the way. Very nice, don’t you think? ;-)

Working Skype on Ubuntu / Kubuntu amd64

After migrating over to the Kubuntu KDE desktop, I still wanted very much to be able to use Skype, so having previously installed the ‘linux32′ environment I just downloaded the static tarball with QT included for i386:


I unpacked this in my users home directory and it and fired it up, bingo! We have Skype!

But wait a minute, the mic works over my speakers but a call to the Skype Test Call showed that nothing was working. A small change in the preferences from ALSA sound over to OSS with the /dev/dsp device and I have the mic working! Easy as pie.

Ubuntu to Kubuntu puts me back in KDE heaven!

I have been a long time Linux user, starting with SuSE and moving onwards to sourcebased distro’s. At work I pretty much don’t need the hassle of tyring to keep my sourcebased distro running smoothly while developing software against deadlines, so I jumped back onto the SuSE bandwagon.

As previously posted here, I moved off of SuSE and gave Ubuntu a try. I am rather happy with the move, even on my amd64 it is running rather well. I did hit a few problems with flash and such not being available for the 64 bit environment, but was able to solve these problems by making use of the ‘linux32′ environment (just google a bit and you will find how to install flash and such for amd64’s on Ubuntu).

Having conquered that hurdle, I desperately wanted to move over to KDE for my desktop (sorry, I am a KDE fan), so this is what I did instead of reinstalling with KUbuntu:

  • sudo bash
  • aptitude search kubuntu
  • aptitude install kubuntu-artwork-usplash kubuntu-default-settings kubuntu-desktop kubuntu-docs kubuntu-grub-splashimages kubuntu-konqueror-shortcuts
  • reboot and watch the pretty KDE stuff run!
Now I know it is all not necessary but I like the various splash screens too. As of today I am back into KDE land!

Winter storage solution for my bike!

I found a nice hang up system for about 6 euros to put my racing bike up out of the way. Very nice, don’t you think? ;-)

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Bit of a sprint to Uden today.

Today the weather was nice enough to take the bike over to Uden for a grandma visit for Isabel. So Mommy and Isabel took the car and Daddy hopped on the bike. A bit more than 35 km’s, but did it like a time trial (as fast as I safely could). With the towns and a few traffic lights in there that I need to stop for I was still able to get an average speed of 30.4 from door to door!

Matej Eric Roth, my little buddy is here!

My best friend Jody in North Carolina has had a little baby boy, Matej Eric Roth. Something special about seeing your name being passed on, hard to put into words but a very big honor for me.

He is a cute little bugger (little, the guy was over 9lbs!), don’t you think?

Matej Eric Roth

Thursday, October 5, 2006

IRIS PMS promoted to ICIS PMS!

As previously stated in ‘Publication Management System is being adopted at RU!’, my publication management software has been bumped up for service at an institute level.

Yesterday I released version 1.2.0 for usage by the complete computer science institute at the Radboud University Nijmegen. After a few weeks of hard work to get the submission process ready for cross-departmental usage and import over 450 legacy publication entries from the previous FileMakerPro database, it has finally been released to the masses!

You can see the results of ICIS research work via the publications listing found on our site, just follow the Research link.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

First big ride since my broken hand.

Off with my buddy Marcel and we did a 60 km ride today around Waalwijk and Heusden. My hand was fine but my wrist started to bother me on the bouncy brick roads in the villages towards the end of the ride. Good to hurt again, pain is good, means I am still alive! ;-)

Top loves baseball too!

My best buddy is a bit of a baseball nut too! ;-)