PAgent’s Progress

Words Are My Favorite Toys

April 19th, 2006

It gets lonely drafting patents…

No one knows better than I the pressures of the patent practitioner; The long hours behind the desk, the close personal relationship with your computer. Not everybody is cut out for such stress. Still, it’s rare to actually see evidence that someone has snapped. Lost their perspective. Taken it all too seriously.

For example, look at U.S. Patent no. 6,494,763 to Hastey for a ‘Life-like Doll’. It’s a straightforward patent, directed to an internal skeletal structure for dolls. It’s all set out in the Abstract:

And certainly the internal framework looks perfectly normal. Nothing unusual here.

But when you look at the doll with the body in place, things begin to go somewhere odd:

Holy Crap! That doll is stacked! And check out the hair! What is this, Baby’s First Playmate of the Month? No, no. It MUST be my imagination. This is a TOY patent. I’m sure it’s not as … risque as all that. Maybe the rest of the figures…

Oh, Good Lord.

It’s certainly possible that these figures came direct from the client. I’ve seen stranger things. Still, part of me can’t help but wonder if some poor patent attorney just got too damn lonely after all those hours of word processing, and got a little carried away sketching dolls for the latest toy patent….

April 19th, 2006

Joe Jamail Conducts a Deposition

The Texas Lawyer’s Creed, as promulgated by The Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1989, includes the statement:

“I will be courteous, civil, and prompt in oral and written communications.”

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell when the following clip was recorded. It features infamous Texas attorney Joe Jamail conducting a deposition, questioning a witness that appears to be a former Monsanto research scientist. (Note: strong language)

What a sterling example of civility and decorum for other attorneys to emulate.

April 19th, 2006

The Final Countdown

As a child of the eighties, I have a certain fondness for the music of that era, from the quirky beats of Devo to the excessive manes sported by the Hair Bands. But regardless of my personal feelings, nobody, nobody, not even Europe, deserves to have this done to one of their songs:

I’ll be hearing this in my nightmares.

April 17th, 2006

Hoo, me?

Ever since Hooters opened in Beaverton, I have joked with my wife that some day I would duck in there for some wings, and to ogle the servers. I haven’t, for the same reason that I haven’t gone to a strip club–I really don’t think she would appreciate it. Nevertheless, I’d been tempted on a couple of occasions. After all, I’d heard that Hooters had good wings, and I really like me some good wings.

But I wasn’t too impressed with the whole Hooters schtick. After all, there are attractive women at any number of restaurants. Sure, Hooters girls have tight outfits, but I figured that was more branding and trade dress than anything too titillating. After all, I’d heard of families that took their kids to Hooters. If Hooters was really all that provocative, people wouldn’t take their kids, right? Right? It must be just another restaurant.

Well, tonight the wife and I had decided to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and park the kids in front of the television for dinner. This is a special treat usually reserved for Friday nights, but we were eager to see the movie, and we knew the kids wouldn’t complain. But what to bring in for dinner? The wife suggested chicken wings, and so I jokingly suggested take-out from Hooters. “Sure” she said. I assumed she meant she would run out and pick it up. But no, she wanted me to pick it up. At Hooters. “Are you sure?” Yes, she really didn’t want to leave the house.

Okay, then.

So I ventured into the bright, orange-emblazoned inner sanctum that is Hooters. A gentleman behind the bar greeted me as I came in the door, and suggested I sit anywhere. I told him I had an order to pick up, and he went to go check with the kitchen. Then I looked around the restaurant. Lots of high tables, lots of televisions turned to various sports channels, and lots of waitresse–

Holy. Crap.

Okay, I’ve seen plenty of pictures of Hooters girls. Tight orange pants, tight tops, busty, etc. But the effect of seeing them in the flesh was … overwhelming. I had assumed that the really top-heavy girls were the exception, rather than the rule. Well, not on this shift. Every server in sight was blessed with assets that more than matched the company trademark, and then some. And their hotpants were so … tight. I immediately found myself looking at the posters on the wall, at the shows on the televisions, anything to keep my eyeballs from drifting inexorably to the girls and their pulchritudinous charms. I also started sweating profusely.

The gentleman returned, rang up my order and handed me a receipt. I pulled out my debit card to pay for it, but he had already walked back to the kitchen area to bag up the food.

“Hi there sweetie, have you been taken care of?” Eeep! It was one of the waitresses. I turned to look at her, then immediately had to force my eyes up and away from the vast expanse of cleavage she displayed. A vast expanse that was suddenly alarmingly close. I waved my receipt in front of me like a tiny little white flag. “Take-out. Order.” I stammered. “Need to pay. Been taken care of.”

Despite my best efforts to look at anything but the girls, I found myself sneaking quick peeks at them while waiting for the slowest worker in the world to take my debit card. And feeling incredibly, ridiculously guilty about it.

I got my food, paid the bill, and bolted for the car. I set out for home, but I was distracted to say the least. When I say I was ‘distracted’, I am not engaged in mere hyperbole. I was in fact so ‘distracted’ that I completely blew through a red light halfway home. Granted, it was a 3-way intersection that rarely has a red light, but I didn’t even notice it until I was already in the intersection. So then I was distracted AND shaken up. So much so that I nearly rear-ended someone as I came into my neighborhood.

Pitiful. Simply pitiful. All the more so since I have been telling folks that, as I embrace my forties, I have become more comfortable with my sexuality. More comfortable with the fact that I enjoy looking at attractive women, and that I simply refuse to feel guilty about it. Clearly, my id has not been comparing notes with my superego on this topic.

Would I ever go back? Well, the wings were good, but not fabulous. The prospect of being waited upon by those handmaidens of Aphrodite, while definitely attractive on one level (thumbs up! says my id) is undeniably terrifying on another (run away! says my superego). I fear I must resign myself to being a middle-aged husband who remains close to home. All my personal fantasies notwithstanding, I am not cool and sophisticated. I am not suave and debonair. I am at heart a geek and a nerd, and I fear it will be impossible to ever be able to wittily chat up the chicas if I am unable to make eye contact with them.

April 16th, 2006

Pipe Dream

An amazing bit of CGI animation from the DVD “Animusic”:

April 16th, 2006

Wascally Wabbit

The kids were all hopped up on goofballs this morning (i.e., flying on sugar) and the wife had a headache. So I volunteered to get them out of the house for a while. We went to the Nature Park, where the children spotted a bunny near the boardwalk:

Yes. It was a bunny. That we saw on Easter. It was an Easter bunny.

We also saw this interesting fungus:

The visit was truly capped by seeing a Pileated Woodpecker on a young cedar tree. It was a beautiful bird, and was totally unconcerned with us watching him excavating a good-sized hole in the side of the tree. Alas, none of the pictures I took do him justice.

And a Happy Easter to all of you, my gentle Readers.

April 13th, 2006
April 13th, 2006

I Want That Purse

I have never bothered with radio contests. The whole “you must be the seventh caller!” with the shrieking and the dialing and the sound effects; it never really appealed to me. Radio contests are something that other people, frivolous people, engage in.

As I have mentioned previously, I listen to a local radio station mornings and evenings, usually during my commute. While I love the personalities they have on the air, I pretty much loathe the music.

This station has implemented a “Pick Your Purse” contest. Folks who have registered with this station’s little online club (*cough* such as myself) are told which song to listen for, at what time, on a particular day. The tenth caller when that song is played gets entered for a chance to Pick Your Purse.

There are three purses to choose from. A Louis Vuitton that comes with a $20,000 extreme makeover. A Prada handbag that comes stuffed with 213,000 pesos ($20,000). And a Kate Spade bag that comes with the keys to a 2006 Chevy Cobalt.

And it occurred to me that I would really enjoy having a new car. Especially one that is referred to as a ’supercharged coupe’. The longer I thought about it, the more it became clear to me that I really deserved that car. And, as a registered listener, I had a better chance to win it, right?

And so I found myself glued to the stupid radio, listening for songs that I hate, and punching buttons on the phone like a crack-addled lab monkey. Here is where it gets amusing:

The first two days of the contest last week I was actually dialing the wrong number, thanks to an error in the email that went out to all the registered listeners. I have been painfully hindered by the fact that I’m not familiar with half the songs they’re using as cues, because I generally change the channel whenever music comes on. I completely spaced the contest this last Monday, and refused to get up early enough to dial in on Tuesday. Wednesday, my cell phone battery died, leaving me forced to manually punch buttons on an actual phone. It turns out that I can in fact dial and redial as obsessive-compulsively as the best of them.

Okay, the only defense for this behavior I can come up with is an impending mid-life crisis. Faced with the potential of having a brand-new two seater sports coupe, all of my rationality and reserve has deserted me. I have become a trained rat, frantically pushing the ‘reward’ button in hopes of getting a pellet.

However, despite my somewhat pathetic efforts, I never get past a busy signal. Ah well, I suppose it was not meant to be. I don’t anticipate my reflexes OR luck getting better in the next few days, so I should just wave goodbye to my fantasy of having a new car.

At least until I got another email last night from the station. It seems that they are discontinuing the ‘points’ program for registered listeners. The collection of points was one of the reasons I had registered in the first place, only to find that, since I actually didn’t LIKE the music they played, I wanted to bid on very few of the prizes they offered. So, all the points I have accumulated will shortly become as worthless as they deserve to be. Except - -

You can purchase chances to be picked for “Pick Your Purse” using those accumulated points. Each chance costs 1,000 points. The more chances you buy, the better your odds.

As of this morning, I have purchased 44 chances to claim ownership of a Kate Spade handbag. I have no pride left. Give me the damned car.

April 11th, 2006

Thundereggs are Go

Last weekend we went to a rock and gem show put on by the Mt. Hood Rock Club. The wife and the girl are both crazy about rocks, but even I have to admit they had some cool, cool stuff. The rather large exhibition hall was chock full of display cases, food vendors, and tables and tables covered with rocks. You could find anything from huge single crystals of selenite to slabs of fossilized sea life, hundreds and hundreds of polished spheres of everything from quartz to fused fiber optics, and thousands of cut and polished gemstones.

The Oregon state rock is the thunderegg. And you could find them in thin polished sections, beautiful half-sections, and raw whole spheres.

The wife could not resist the lure of the thunderegg. Picking out an unbroken thunderegg is like playing the Lotto. It could just be an ugly rock, or it could have something wonderful inside. She picked out a fairly large one from the Thunderegg booth, and handed it to the seller to set it up for cracking. He placed it in some serious long-handled tool, and tightened an adjusting screw until the thunderegg was snug. My wife then bore down on the handle, slowly increasing the pressure, until a loud crack was heard.

Thundereggs are not very attractive in their unbroken state:

But when you get a nice clean crack, the inside can be quite impressive. The wife picked a good one:

One side had the typical mass of quartz crystals lining the cavity:

While the other had a crystal formation called “Angel’s Wings”:

Not unlike a gambling fiend, I think my wife is hooked. In addition, the kids took part in a rock and gem Easter Egg hunt on the lawn. Picture the spectacle of a mass of small children clearing an entire lawn in a matter of mere moments. I suspect we will go back again next year.

April 11th, 2006

White Screen of Death

So, the wife and I are loving our new, Intel-driven iMac. It’s gorgeous, it’s fast, and so far quite well-behaved.

The only drawback is an ironic one: For lo these last few years, our antique blueberry iMac was too slow and too outdated to do any of the cool things. Like watch video, for example. Even when we upgraded to OS X (1.2) we were behind the curve. Software was already coming out that required OS X 1.3.

So it was with barely-contained glee that I looked forward to having a state-of-the-art computer again, one that could actually run the software that was currently available.

Except it can’t. Because it’s too new. A lot of the software out there doesn’t play well with the Intel chips, and unless you have the ‘Universal Binary’ for that application, performance can suck, if you can run it at all. There are patches available for some applications. Others (like my copy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) have Universal Binary patches coming out ‘real soon now’.

Another drawback was the keyboard. I tried real hard to give myself carpal tunnel syndrome a couple of years ago, and as a result can’t type on a standard keyboard for any length of time without causing a lot of pain in my wrists. The beautiful sleek white iMac keyboard had to go. So I went out yesterday and bought an ergonomic Microsoft keyboard that was “OS X compatible”.

Please note that this is a VAST improvement over the situation even a half-dozen years ago, when you could not find Mac-compatible keyboards outside of the Apple Store, and none of them were ergonomic.

So, I get the new keyboard home, read the instructions, and pop in the install disk. The box says the software is compatible with OS X 1.1-1.3. I have 1.4. But I figure once the keyboard is installed, I can find the appropriate upgrade to get it up to full compatibility pretty quick. The installer does its thing, the keyboard software gets installed, and the computer tells me I have to Restart. No problem. I hit “OK” and the screen goes black.

Then the screen goes white. And stays white. For a long time. The keyboard doesn’t respond, and the mouse doesn’t respond, so I do a hard restart. Same thing. Now a cold sweat has broken out on my brow. I can’t very well find and download the updated driver if the computer won’t boot, can I?

I started thumbing through the OS X Tiger ‘Missing Manual’, and start trying various tricks. No luck. I try booting in ‘Safe Mode’. No luck. The next step would be to boot from a CD and check the hard drive, but the install disk for the keyboard software is still in the drive. So now I try various tricks to get the disk out. FINALLY, one of the tricks works, and the disk pops out. As soon as the evil Microsoft CD is out of the drive, the computer miraculously boots up normally.

Well, normal up until I get an error message telling me I have an unrecognized keyboard. This was to be expected, so I told the iMac it was a standard 101 key ANSI keyboard, and opened Camino to search for the upgraded driver.

Except the ‘r’ key didn’t function. No ‘r’. You type ‘r’ and get no text.

I shall leave it as an exercise to the reader to imagine how much fun it was to find the appropriate keyboard software, when the kinds of search terms I could enter were ‘micosoft’, ‘egonomic’, ‘keyboad’, ‘poduct suppot’, etc. It was entertaining.

Nevertheless, the upgrade to keyboard compatibility with OS X 10.4 was found, installed, and the keyboard now works perfectly, including all the little specialty bells and whistles, like volume controls and dedicated ‘back’ and ‘forward’ buttons.

Now if only Aspyr would get off their collective butts and get me my Universal Binary for KOTOR, I’d be a happy guy.


I got an email from my wife this afternoon:

“Can you tell which lette on the keyboad is not functioning coectly?”

Just shoot me.


I restarted, and the ‘r’ is back. But I’m keeping my eye on it. I still have the receipt for the damn thing.