July 27, 2004

Bloggers at the DNC

As my personal experiment in blogging continues, proof that the blogging phenomenon is gaining traction comes with the
admission of bloggers to political conventions with full journalist credentials

Since blogs are very much a grass roots endeavor operating on a much more personal, individual level than mainstream media, it stands to reason that those bloggers committed enough to apply for credentials and travel to the DNC are going to be those with a leftist bent. I would imagine that the same will be true of the RNC.

Even more so than with mainstream media, one needs to keep this in mind when reading these blogs. They are partisan, but unlike traditional media, often make no attempt to hide behind objectivity.

Therefore, I've tended to concentrate on the blog named
Centerfield, from the Centrist Coalition, a group which mirrors my own political leanings of late: conservative on fiscal matters and the role government should play, while advocating an inclusive social agenda that seeks to limit governments' role in that arena as well.

The last thing I want to do with this blog is turn it into some sort of political soapbox. As the saying goes, if you don't want to argue, don't talk religion or politics. I just wanted to shed a little light on blogging, and bring to mind the upcoming elections. It promises to be a close contest, so learn about the candidates and the issues, and make sure you're registered to vote!

I'm Patrick Lien, and I approve this message.

July 22, 2004

House Plans

As some of you may know, we've finally decided to move forward with the addition/renovation that we've been talking about for the last 4 years. There was always something that prevented us from moving forward: job security, pregnancy, what-have-you. We finally said, "Enough! Let's just do it!"

So we've been working with a designer the last few weeks, hoping to put bids out next week, with the aim of selecting a builder and having him start in the fall.

By popular request, here are some scans of the designs that we've come up with so far.

Tech note: They are in PNG format, which most modern web browsers should be able to display.

EDIT: And for context, here are some photographs of the house.

UPDATE [22 Jul 2004]: Revised plans have been uploaded. These incorporate changes to:

  • Window arrangement (thanks, Ken)
  • Master bath changes
  • Slight enlargement of master bath and walk-in closet
  • Revisions around the fireplace
  • Slight enlargement of family room and master bedroom

July 19, 2004

Dad tracks his preemie baby on his blog

snowdeal.org > ex machina

Part of becoming a new parent means that you become hypersensitive to stories about and images of babies. I can't count the number of times Wendy and I have been watching TV and a baby appears on screen in the show or in a commercial, and we both involuntarily blurt out "Baby!," rewind the TiVo, and watch the baby again.

And one of my colleagues recently brought home his 8 weeks prematurely-born son, and I've listened to his stories about keeping the baby on oxygen, and stimulating him to breathe through apnea episodes.

So when I came across this blog of little Eric, born on the Fourth of July, I was "primed" so to speak.

It really is amazing that the advances in medical technology not only give a preemie like little Eric a chance to survive, but that the baseline survival rate for a 24-week preemie is around 65%. I find that really amazing.

Anyway, this blog chronicles it all (he's currently at Day 14) with photos, video, comments from friends and family ("this update made my whole office cheer!") and lots of "tearability."

July 14, 2004

Prophetable Colors

Hello icon
Making Light: Prophetable colors [nielsenhayden.com]
"Twice a year they get together in Alexandria, VA, to come up with long-term and short-term color predictions. The long-term prediction is a set of sixteen colors that will be profitably marketable two years hence. That is, the 2003 palette was distributed to manufacturers in 2001. The short-term prediction is a palette of colors declared to be currently the thing."

Since marrying Wendy, I've come to have a much greater appreciation for color. Previously, I never would have given much thought to what colors complement me.

Like most average males, my thought process as it related to color and fashion was limited to a once yearly prediction on the local newscast that said that "red is in this year," or "green is so last year."

Well, it turns out that what colors are "in" or "out" aren't determined simply by the fickle whims of the general consumer public. There's actually an organization that meets every year to define the upcoming "Consumer Palette":

"The 2004 Consumer Directions Palette includes rich reds, innocent pinks, therapeutic blues, soft greens and a jolting neon yellow," just so you know.

July 13, 2004

Miranda Gets Her First Teeth

Miranda has gotten her first teeth! The lower two incisors are just poking through the gum line. This might have been the reason why she was so cranky 2 nights ago, waking up in the middle of the night 2 times.

It's hard to see the new teeth in the picture, although it might be easier if you enlarge the photo (click on it).

I'll try to take more pictures of the new teeth and post them to the Miranda photo album, which you can view by clicking here.

July 12, 2004

Eight more gored by Pamplona bulls

CNN.com - Eight more gored by Pamplona bulls - Jul 12, 2004: "Another American, from Georgia, was gored in the scrotum, in the bullring, in what the government spokesman said was a 'slight injury.'"

I don't know about you, but I don't classify any goring of the scrotum as a "slight injury."

July 08, 2004

Monty Python LEGO

Monty Python LEGO (iFilm)

For those of you who can't wait for the Holy Grail Broadway musical to get their fix of Alternative Medium Python, check out this LEGO film!

Traffic Waves, physics for bored commuters

Traffic Waves, physics for bored commuters
"Don't think of it as a stupid f@#$% traffic jam. Think of it as a pressure wave which has approached your car and engulfed it."

We've all had this experience when caught up in a traffic jam that seems to have had no cause: you are sure you're going to see some reason for the traffic jam, but when traffic starts moving again there's no reason to be seen anywhere! "Where did that come from?" you ask. But then, happy to be on your way, you don't give it much more thought.

Well, this amateur traffic dynamicist has. The site is a bit of a read, honestly. But he has linked to some interesting sites, some of which are rooted in real academia. Don't miss the Traffic Simulator Applet.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail to be Broadway musical

Article (CNN)
Article (Daily Llama)
David Hyde Pierce as Sir Robin! Perfect!

One has to wonder how such ideas ever make the light of day, but some big name stars are signed onto the project: Tim Curry, Hank Azaria, Mike Nichols to direct.

The article mentions that two songs from the original movie will be included in the music. If I were to guess, I'd say they'd be: 1. "Camelot" (of course, perhaps changed to "Spamalot"), and 2. Sir Robin.

Of course, I think there were only 3 songs in the entire movie, those 2 plus "He's Going To Tell!" from the Swamp Castle segment ("No singing!"), which is the most "Musical"-like of the 3 songs. ([Herbert] "Well, I'll tell you" [Chorus] "He's going to tell!")

July 07, 2004


A Wasted Journey

Have you ever seen short, animated Lego® films? They're usually a parody of some film or genre, most commonly Star Wars, The Matrix, or some other geek-friendly oeuvre.

There's a whole site devoted to them, www.brickfilms.com, and here I've linked one of my favorites - A Wasted Journey. Like the page says, it helps to know something about StarWars and Monty Python.

July 06, 2004

The customer is always right? Not anymore

Article (San Francisco Chronicle): "Filene's banned two sisters from all 21 of its stores last year after the clothing chain's corporate parent decided they had returned too many items"

The trend in retail the last 15-20 years seems to have been: Cater to the customer whatever the cost. Whether it's no questions asked return policies (which I took advantage of in college with my innovative College Student Rental Plan, or CSRP) or razor thin margins on top of sales or even Talbot's Don't Confront A Shoplifter policy, it's gotten to the point where I wonder how stores can make a profit.

Well, with the advent of data mining technologies and processes, the tide seems to be turning. Companies are now actively identifying customers that are "not profitable" and turning them away. Sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly.

We return a heck of a lot of stuff at places like Marshall's and Linens 'n Things. We're also aggressive sales shoppers and coupon users. A lot of people are. To us, it's just smart shopping.

But might we one day be turned away from Linen 'n Things for using one competitor coupon too many?

July 03, 2004

Colin Powell goes disco for ASEAN forum

"Mr Powell donned a hard hat and stuffed a hammer in his belt for the Village People's YMCA"

A new foreign policy strategy for the US? Video included....

July 02, 2004

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SUV takes plunge in Hawai'i Kai

"Pat and Mimi sat inside the 2001 silver Toyota Highlander as it filled with water."

This will not do any wonders for the stereotype of female driving abilities.

Cassini-Huygens Reaches Saturn

Posted by Hello
The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft has penetrated the rings of Saturn and returned some spectacular photos.

3 years after Arthur C. Clarke's fictional manned mission to Jupiter, mankind has sent a spacecraft to probe the Saturn system. For the next 4 years Cassini-Huygens will orbit and investigate Saturn, as well as drop the Huygens probe onto the surface of the largest Saturn moon, Titan.

Check out NASA's Cassini-Huygens site for more info and pictures.

July 01, 2004

Is Coach K ready to become 'Coach L.A.?'

From the category of "I'll Believe It When I See It" comes this ESPN.com article which indicates Duke's Coach K is in "serious discussions" with the L.A. Lakers about their coaching vacancy.

Somehow, I can't see Coach K in the Land of Showtime...

Floyd Collins

My sister, Mimi Lien, is a set designer based out of New York City. Her most recent project was Floyd Collins, a musical by Adam Guettel being produced by the Berkshire Theater Festival.

There have been a number of very positive reviews, which I'm going to list here because I'm her older brother and I'm very proud of her.


Crimson Room


Yes, you can get out of the room. No, I don't know how, yet.

The Phone

The Phone

Not really a game. More like an experience.

Spyware Troubleshooting

Spyware Troubleshooting

One of things about being an IT professional is that all your friends and family come to you for computer help. Despite the fact that I'm a development manager and have never worked help desk, I help out as much as I can: 1) because they're my friends and family, and 2) because I enjoy tinkering and working on with computers.

My father-in-law's computer has become infected with spyware/malware that has hijacked his home page. My initial attempt was to install and run Lavasoft's AdAware. This successfully identified the culprit, but was unsuccessfully in removing it. All of this was done by me via XP's remote assistance, and my father-in-law is on dialup.

Let me tell you, that is some slow going.

Personally, I've never experienced much in the way of viruses, trojans, spyware, malware, etc., because I like to run a tight ship, so to speak. Yeah, speak to me all you want about Windows vs. Linux vs. everything else, and I've tinkered with Linux a bit, but my computing life still centers around Windows, and so does that of my friends and family.

So in an attempt to research what next steps I should take, I came across this site. It's pretty utilitarian in design, but it looks like it has good info. Unfortunately, the steps it outlines seems to be something beyond what I'd attempt via Remote Assistance/dial-up. I'll probably just skim the article for nuggets that I can perform manually, and if that doesn't work, it may have to wait until I'm up at my father-in-law's house again.

Knock 3 Times on the Ceiling (to Turn on the DVD Player)

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > What's Next: Knock 3 Times on the Ceiling (to Turn on the DVD Player): "French physicists have figured out how to rap on tabletops to communicate with CD's, lights or most other nearby electric or electronic devices."

I see this going in one of two directions:
1. Either it revolutionizes consumer electronics interfaces, or
2. It's the successor to The Clapper

Rowland Resigns

Today, Connecticut Governor John Rowland, former wunderkind of the GOP, resigns from office amid bribery and corruption scandals, and an ongoing Federal investigation. A shame, really, as I've always thought he was doing a good job as the guv.

A couple of years ago, I struck up a conversation with a guy at a bar in Trumbull who told me he had all the inside dirt on Rowland, and that he was as dirty as they come. This was before any revelations came to light, and I thought the guy was crazy. Turns out he was right.

So now that Johnny Boy is no longer governor, I wonder what his career options are? Here's one possibility.

Thanks to Dana for the pic!