Monthly Archives: November 2006

Personal Stories – Fixing my Canon Digital Elph

Christmas present buying note: digital cameras make great presents.  Unlike many technology gifts (electric razors, TIVOs, cell phones, etc.), digital cameras actually save the recipient money; no more film.  Three years ago, I was so happy to say goodbye to film and hello to the little digital wonder that fit in my pocket. 

The Canon S400 Elph was great camera back in 2003.  In fact, it still is.  So what if the pixels are a scant 4 million, that is plenty for me.  Heck, most of the pictures on this blog are taken with the 2 megapixel camera integrated with my PDA.  It is the optics that make the difference, and in my opinion and more importantly my camera savvy wife's opinion, Canon has the best optics of any digital camera. 

So how bummed was I when earlier this year the camera crapped out on me?  Very bummed.  I had a memory card error, but the error spanned all memory cards and seemed to be a camera problem.  I looked it up on the net, and found it that the problem was with the Canon camera itself.  Seems there is a latent defect in the firmware.

How angry was I that Canon, a corporation that I held in high esteem, had sold me a faulty product?  Very angry.  Not so enraged that I could not type, I angrily posted to many a review website about my story and gave Canon a very low rating on its camera.  "Hah, that will show them", I thought.  Then around June, Canon started a program whereby they will fix the latent memory error defect for free.  They even pay for shipping!  Had I only subsided my rage enough to notice, I could be using my Canon for these post instead of my distorted and grainy PDA cam.  Heck, my ravings on the net may have spurred Canon into conciliatory action.  Thankfully, perhaps with my rage tempered by the every shortening days of fall, I checked into the camera problem again and discovered Canon's olive branch.

Now to the task of contacting Canon and getting the thing shipped to the repair center.  My wife and I started in September.  The repair odyssey starts with a call to Canon.  I recommend reserving a few hours and lots of patience for this; you start with a mindless voice activated computer and end with a clueless voice activated person.  A Few weeks later, call back and a different customer service rep will wonder why nothing has happened yet because a record of the earlier call shows up on his screen.  Another week goes buy and there is an e-mail from Canon and UPS.  The Canon e-mail says to look at the UPS e-mail, click on a link, and get a shipping label.  The UPS label has broken links leading to error messages and no shipping label.  After ten days, the UPS label that can't be retrieved expires and Canon agrees to send a new label.  The new UPS e-mail is also full of broken links.  Now is the tough part, explaining to the UPS rep, after exhausting the voice activated menus, that UPS has a program that allows company's like Canon to send shipping labels to its customers.  One UPS rep thought I was having trouble printing a label on a Canon printer.  Eventually, a frustrated rep directs the call to the UPS technology center.  The UPS technology center closes before the regular help center (perhaps it is in an upscale part of India?), so the call must wait for a new day.  The UPS technology center reps have some inkling about UPS's ability to e-mail links to shipping labels, and after about an hour I was able to get them to send me a good link to a shipping label.  For a while, I wondered if Canon had put up certain obstacles to prevent customers from getting their camera's fixed.

For all those with busted cameras, keep the heat on the manufacturer to fix it.  The squeaky wheel and frequent caller gets the grease.  For all those with problems retrieving UPS shipping labels, call 1-877-289-6418 and keep hitting 0.  Or just e-mail 

Today I received an e-mail form Canon letting me know that my repair was accepted.  Woohoo!  I should have my old camera back in working order before Christmas.  Maybe I'll have my wife wrap for me and put it in my stocking.  As a present to Canon, they get to stay off of my shunning list.

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Personal Stories – My Wonderful Wife

My wife is just plain awesome. When we first met, I thought she was pure magic. And I still do.

I believe that my wife is the most important person to our baby. We use cloth diapers for baby's benefit, and that laundry piles up fast.  Did I mention that dirty diapers stink.  I don't mean normal stink either. The putrid stench is like an amalgam of different and very pungent smells. Add to that three daily feedings of solids and about twenty daily nursings.  The straight and simple truth is that without my wife, our son's existence would be in dire jeopardy. 

Heck, without my wife, my existence would be in dire jeopardy. Before we met, my standard of living was somewhere between a youth hostel and a rustic campground. Now the bathroom gets cleaned more than once a year and no dishes are thrown out

due to mold growth. My sweet wife even does our laundry. When I say our laundry I really mean my laundry. I throw my clothes in the hamper and my wife piles clean clothes on top. I told you she was magical.  If that weren't enough (and believe me that laundry alone is plenty enough), she cooks. I actually love cooking and would love to cook every meal.  Finding the time to cook, especially after a long work day, can be impossible. My sweetie is always picking up the slack. My wife's soup, by the way, tastes even better than a certain Mr. Puck's canned goodness. Did I mention that she buys most of the groceries?  She even buys me food that she hates, like strawberry flavored milk and barbecued potato chips.

My wife does more than make our house a home, she renovates it. She even hauled lumber while pregnant for goodness sakes.  In fact, she just spent all afternoon picking up loose debris in our yard, while carrying the baby in a sling. She is does spectacular work finishing walls, i.e. finishing my work on the walls. Her excellence ends not at grunt work. She has planned an entire kitchen redo right down to hiring a plumber to install the sink. 

Wall progressAdding wall texture

These are just little things, the things that are easy to enter into a blog.  My wife is really so much more. She is like driving down a road with all green lights. She is sunshine in the shape of a woman. She smells nice.  Her sad face can break hearts. Her passion can power a large city. I love my wife to the power of infinity. 

Huzaa to my wife!

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Personal Stories – Is 12 hours of sleep enough?

Apparently, 12 hours of sleep is enough sleep, if you want to feel awesome all day.  Last night, I was singing Brahm's Lullabye to my little guy, when I was overcome by waves of unconsciousness.  My wife helped sing a few lines and then tapped my shoulder to wake me up.  I had planned to work out the gym and then put a few hours in at the office, much like any other night.  Overcome by my own powerful melody, I told my wife to just leave me be.

Seven hours later, I awoke.  My wife had gone to bed and she and little guy were soundly sleeping next to me.  Still wearing my regular clothes, I quietly changed and got ready to go to the bed I had been sleeping in for seven hours.  My mouth tasted terrible; I hadn't brushed my teeth.  It was 2:30 a.m. and I was wide awake.  What was I to do?  Go back to bed, of course.

Sleeping in isn't as easy at sounds.  After a restful night of sleep, the body is resistant to more sleeping.  To encourage your body to return to its unconscious state, try the following steps:

  • relax
  • get warm and snuggly, it helps if you don't leave your bed in the first place
  • take care of business, if you know what I mean
  • think about your soft and warm bed
  • think about how hard and cold the rest of the world is
  • remember that when not moving, your body doesn't need as much food so forget about breakfast
  • close your eyes to let that semi-hypnotic dream state take over

Following the above method, I managed to sleep until our baby's normal awake time.  I caught up on some much need REM sleep too.  First I dreamt that my brother and were driving around in my car, we saw a track turn over, and then I shrunk my car to the size of a toy and used the headlights to light our way.  Then I dreamt that that older doctor on the show "ER" needed me to get Noah Wiley because only he knew how to use a very tiny set of surgical scissors.  When it comes to good REM sleep, I believe that the weirder the dream the better the REM cycles. 

So now I have a way to get around our little guy's built in alarm clock.  If I can't sleep in four hours later I'll just have to go to bed four hours earlier.  Sleep on!

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Rants – Legal Advice

The purpose of my blog is not to wax eloquently about lawyering. I am a lawyer, but I would rather write about my none lawyer activities, my thoughts about the world, and Spider-Man. When my brother sent me an interesting article from New York Times Magazine about a 15 year old who was the No. 1 legal expert on, I felt compelled to post about the legal issues. See Michael Lewis, Faking It, 150 New York Times Magazine 32 (July 15, 2001).  The story is five years old, making this post somewhat of an untimely review.  The issue of internet, anonymity, and the law, however, are just as fresh now as they were then.

Way back in the early 00's, "expert" Marcus Arnold answered a hundred legal questions a day. People from all over the country liked his straightforward answers. All heck broke lose when Marcus started to question the ethics of pretending he was a 25 year old legal expert and revealed himself as a 15 year old boy who watched Judge Judy on TV. The article raises the notion that the practice of law depends upon lawyers monopolizing legal information, and the internet allows anyone, even a 15 year old, to compete with lawyers at their own information game. 

Oh the New York Times. I do read it often and even send its RSS feeds to my personalized Google homepage. Yet I wonder, is any periodical more full itself to the point of crapulence?  I enjoyed this quote from the author  "Marcus Arnold was a threat to no one but himself and, perhaps, the people who sought his advice.Yes, perhaps a 15 year old with no legal training was a threat to criminal defendants relying on his advice.
I wonder how the New York Times feels about all of those bloggers who think they are journalists. Journalism, after all, is just rehashing information with a few witty or not so witty metaphors. Add in an obscure word or two and you have a New York Times journalist. They are only a threat to themselves and perhaps the reputation of the news as unbiased.

The problem I have with the cavalier attitude of the article is that pro parties, a.k.a. people without lawyers, have no idea when they are making bad legal decisions. They file a brief, go to jail, and who is to know if fault lay in brief or the "corrupt system". As for the legal information that can be gleaned from the net, it is important to make sure it is up-to-date. No website will tell you that the laws have been amended, overturned by an appellate court, or given not-so-common sense interpretation by a government agency. Lawyering just isn't that easy, even for us lawyers.

I, and most of the lawyers I know, have no qualms with people acting as their own counsel. There really is good legal information on the net for those who find it. The courts also help advise pro se litigants as to what to file, when to file it, and how they can conduct the necessary research. The most important services a lawyer offers is not just knowledge of the law, it is counseling. Legal problems are stressful and frustrating. Lawyers provide reassurance, run interference with unsavory adversaries, and sometimes give the infamous "come to Jesus" speech, which may differ depending on your religion.
I am curious to know what Marcus is doing now. He should be about 20 years old and ready to give medical advice.   I wonder if Marcus might have difficulty entering law school or being admitted to the bar.  I wonder what he thinks about his old legal advice or all that time he spent on the computer.  Funny that all of the internet information (I found) about Marcus relates to his activities on, specifically the New York Times article with its flattering portrayal of his legal advice giving exploits and its unflattering portrayal of his adolescent body.  If Marcus is like most of use, I think he would rather forget about life at 15. ended its free service in 2002, so I imagine Marcus has moved on. To bad the internet hasn't.

Thanks to my bro for inspiring this post.
Huzaa to you, bro!

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Personal Stories – Expanding My Neighborhood

I have again been added to a Vox member's neighborhood.  Vox hosts this blog and allows members to become neighbors to each other, see the neighbor menu on the left.  Last month Vox user Zad added me to her neighborhood.  However, because Zad's neighborhood is not an exclusive club, I did not reciprocate. 

This month, Vox user Chaeign added me to her neighborhood.  Chaeign's neighborhood is much more exclusive, and I reciprocated.  Now I have expanded my neighborhood by 25%!  Hello neighbor Chaeign.

The cool thing about a neighbor is that when they post something, it shows up on my neighbor menu.  That is how I found Chaeign's picture of how she would appear on South Park.  She links visitors to a wicked cool South Park Character Design Studio.  I designed my South Park character as a reflection of the real me and what I would be like if I really lived in the fictional white bred redneck town of South Park.  Thanks for the link Chaeign!

My new neighbor's blog is a good complements to my blog.  While I post untimely reviews of movies, Chaeign posts about books.  In an ironic twist, Chaeign has seen the movie "V for Vendetta" twice, whereas I have only read the graphic novel.  Chaeign's passions are not limited to writing and dark british distopian dramas.  Chaeign is also a great carver of jack-o-lanterns.   Chaeign's blog isn't all fun and games either, it includes some important life lessons.  You will certianly find things on Chaeign's blog that you will not find here.  So is the power of the expanded neighborhood.

Huzaa to Chaeign ("Kay-ehn")!


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Personal Stories – My signs change the world

Remember that big election last week when the Democratic party broke the Republican hold on the United States government?  Well, I did my small part to useat the effete bureaucracy that bungled a war and mispent our tax dollars.  I put up signs. 


Putting up a few signs might not sound like much, but look at the results.  All three of these candidates won. 

That guy with the blue sign, Leonard Boswell, was running against a serious money machine to retain his seat in the United States House of Representative.  My land-line was deluged with prerecorded messages about how bad a guy Boswell, or the "Boz" as I never say, allegedly was.  I also received many, many mailings from the Economic Freedom Fund.  Hours upon hours of negative television ads,, were even unleashed.  They were a tainted blur as I fast forwarded through them on my DVR.  Yet, for all the millions spent to unseat Boswell,  those efforts were no match for my incredibly persuasive signs. 

Credit also goes to my wife.  She originally collected the signs and then helped me design the three tiered placement.  She also endured many a phone call while I was at work.

I didn't just rely on my yard signs.  Of course, I also had a window stickie on my car.  Apparently the majority here in Boz country have had enough.  It sure is nice to be in the majority.  Maybe that can be the tag line of my next window sticky, "Be in the majority for a change!  Vote Democrat in '08".

The question after the election became how long do I leave up these powerful signs?  If I leave them up too long I would be gloating.  But if I took them down too soon it would look like I was embarrassed to have them up in the first place.  I decided that one week was sufficient to show my continued support of the Boz and his friends without rubbing the victory in the faces of the minority who voted against them. 

I am keeping all the signs for the next election; waste not want not.  The window sticky might come in handy in the race of 2106.  Hopefully, the Democrats will fund research that will allow me to live that long.  Otherwise I will have to hope that my grandchildren (or great grandchildren) vote Democrat. 

By the way, I have a tip for the Economic Freedom Fund (who I like to call EFF), if you EFFers stop spending your EFFing money on those EFFing fliers, you will have more EFFing money for your own EFFing economic freedom.  After receiving the dozenth or so flier, I e-mailed the EFFing group and let them know how much I appreciated their calcifying my support of the Boz.  I'm just that kind of rebel.

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Rants – Is it so hard to be funny?

     I believe that all media will eat itself.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing especially when it comes to media about comedy.  For example, the movie "Punchline" with Tom Hanks and Sally Field is heartwarming and disturbing as it explores the motivations of stand-up comics.  But what really make this movie stand out are the hilarious stand up routines.  These scenes are no mere amusing recreations of comedy.  They are the real thing, laugh out loud with tears coming out of your eyes funny. 

    Too bad the same cannot be said about the new show "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip".  I have been storing this well made show on my DVR for about half a dozen episodes.  I do mean that it is well made.  The lighting is nice and the actors are well spoken.  However, the show is about a "Saturday Night Live" like comedy show and yet is never funny.  The show doesn't have to be funny for a whole hour; it could just be funny for a minute or two.  How hard can it be to be funny for a just one minute a week?  Even the now pathetic "Saturday Night Live" can muster at least a minute of laughs each week. 

    Some shows are funny in that not really funny sort of way, like HBO comedies, "Arrested Development", or cartoons in "The New Yorker".  Some people enjoy enjoy humor without laughter or even the occasional smirk.  These shows fill that niche.  "Studio 60" doesn't even go that far.  It just isn't funny.  I blame the long winded overly sincere fact filled speeches.  Or maybe it is just that the show within the show isn't compelling without the humor.  Or maybe the creators of the show have no funny bone.  For example, One of the stars of "Studio 60", Nate Cordry, was a former "Daily Show" correspondent.  He was funnier in one "Daily Show" clip than the he has been on the entire run of "Studio 60".  I doubt that it is his fault.

I'll continue watching "Studio 60" not because I think it will get funnier.  It will probably be cancelled by year's end, leaving more time to watch other shows.  Perhaps I will catch up on my back log of "The Daily Show", which is hilarious.

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