Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Partisanship... The Bitter Pill Of The Masses

Why is our country1 so polarized? I know it's an election year, and that has a lot to do with it, but it seems particular bitter this election year (as evidence by Dick Cheney dropping the F-bomb on a Democrat Senator last week and then defending it saying that it was “long overdue” and that Cheney “felt better afterwards”).

The pundits on both sides seem to be spewing more vitriol than usual, and all but the 10-20% of America who are "on the fence" (not to mention the 50% or more that "don't vote") are firmly entrenched in either Bush's "Camp Crawford" or Kerry's "Over-Privileged Platoon".

I’'m almost ashamed to admit that I'm just as bad as everybody (see some of my earlier posts for evidence). I am a liberal democrat who wants to see Bush go and I find myself enhancing all the problems with the right... and turning a blind(er) eye to all the problems with the left2

1 I apologize to visitors from other countries, such as my regular guest from Canada, Great Britain, and the smattering of hits I get from other countries.
2 Which, for the most part, are the same problems as the right... out of touch with the vast majority of Americans, afraid to make a stand for anything of substance unless it polls well, etc.

Monday, June 28, 2004

PSA: Pickpockets Are Sneaky

"I am bery, bery sneaky sir... Do no underestimate my sneakiness."
- John Turturro as Emilio in Mr. Deeds

I don't really have much to write about right now, but I would like to make this public service announcement for your protection...

Watch out for pickpockets, because those bastards are sneaky!

On Saturday, while the in-laws, my wife, and I were coming back from the Taste of Chicago on the el (see Friday's Tourist Board post), we all witnessed a dastardly duo steal a man's wallet. One of the bad guys pretended to get his foot stuck between the train and the platform while getting on the el1. The guy behind the faker grabbed him to try and help him out, and while the Good Samaratan helped Mr. "Ouch-My-Foot-Is-Stuck" [*Wink*], his partner in crime swiped the guys wallet.

Just as the doors finished closing... Mr. One-Wallet-Lighter yelled "Son OF A BITCH" and tried to open the doors... but it was too late. The heist was complete, and quite impressivly at that. Sneaky, sneaky bastards

Then, on Saturday, we received a phone call from my mom in Rome. Apparently, on the last day of their 2 week European vacation, my dad was pickpocketed and his wallet and passport were stolen2. I don't have details yet on how the job went down, but I do not doubt that there was some level of sneakiness involved.

1 Of course, this is impossible to do because the space between the train and the platform is about 1 cm... but in the heat of the moment, who's going to remember that?
2 Better than on the first day of the vacation, I guess


HOLY SHIT... an an earthquake hit northern Illinois early this morning. It was only a light one (4.5 on Mr. Richter's scale1), but apparently people felt it in Chicago, Indiana, Iowa, and parts of St. Louis.

1 NO, not Andy Richter!

Friday, June 25, 2004

Unreasonable Message from the Second City Tourist Bureau

One of the great advantages of living in Chicago (or visiting it, for that matter) is all the great stuff there is to do. One of my favorite "Chicago" things is The Second City, which is basically the feeder comedy/improv theater for Saturday Night Live (if you look at the alumni list, it is chock full of SNL cast members and other famous funny people, including Dan Akroid, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, Dan Castellaneta, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, Bob Odenkirk, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, and Tina Fey... and that's just from the Chicago branch), and they always put on great comedy sketch shows. Last night my wife and I went to see Doors Open on the Right1. It was quite funny. Although there were a lot of jokes about the Cubs fan who knocked the ball away from Moises Alou in Game 6 of last year's National League Championship Series2... but somehow they didn't seem to get old. If you're ever in Chicago, I highly recommend you go see a Second City show.

My in-laws are in town this weekend, and we're going to see Blue Man Group. My wife and I have seen it before, but we thought her parents and siblings would like it. We're also going to Taste of Chicago3 if the weather holds. It's also a good time, and I've been to it every year since I've lived here.

Sorry about what appears to be advertisements for the Chicago Tourist Board, but there is a lot to do here during the summer4, and I'm trying to partake in as much of it as I can before I move. Have a great weekend everybody!

1 Referring to the announcements on Chicago's el transit system
2 Which North-Siders here in Chi-town will never, EVER get over
3 The local gorge-yourself-and-see-some-free-music festival that is a guaranteed way to get lost in a crowd
4 There I go again!

The Heat of Fahrenheit

Right-wing conservatives seem to have a bigger problem then they realize when dealing with Michael Moore's new movie Fahrenheit 9/11. They want to do everything they can to dispute it and to discredit Moore... but to do that most effectively, they have to see the movie, probably several times to really get the best analysis... which will of course mean the movie will make even more money and be an even bigger hit... creating even more buzz and driving even more people to go see the movie.

So what does a conservative do? Either boycott the movie and criticize it without actually seeing it, thus opening themselves up to the argument that they have no way of knowing if it is inaccurate or intentionally misleading, and therefore, their criticism has no merit... OR... See the movie and help Michael Moore out.

I for one can't wait to see the movie. I'm just sad that I have to wait until at least next weekend, because my wife has no desire to see it, and I have to wear her down... or wait until she goes out of town to visit family for the 4th of July.

Red-Line Series 2004

The evil White Sox host the just and good Cubs in the first game of the 2004 Red-Line series today at Comisky Park (I'm sorry... U.S. Cellular Field... I feel so dirty even saying it). The Cubs just got the stuffing beat out of them by St. Louis the last two games, so they need to regroup and beat down the Sox.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

T-Minus Five Weeks

My last day of work is five weeks from yesterday, and my wife and I close on our townhouse in five weeks from today. I started this job a little under 3 years ago1, and it is amazing to me that I am rapidly nearing the end of my first position in the "real world."

This has been made even worse by the fact that I have been relegated to the role of a "short-timer" and have been given a lot of little jobs that need to get done for the firm, but are not at all intellectually challenging. At least a new paten application came in yesterday, so I will have some real client work to take up two of those five weeks, but I kind of feel like I've become less than useful.

I just hope I can end this job with as much enthusiasm as I've had through the rest of the job, because the truth is I've really enjoyed the work I've been doing. That's why I'm going to law school to solidify it as a permanent career.

Does anyone else have this general malaise as they're ending up work and other commitments before returning to school?

1 My first day was actually Sept. 10, 2001, so my second day in the professional world will always be memorable.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I Gotta Take This Call

While walking to the bus stop today, I passed by my neighborhood garbage men collecting the week's trash. The guy in the cab of the garbage truck was talking on his cell phone. What could be such an important call that you have to make it from the front of a garbage truck at 7:45 in the morning? I'm happy for the guy that he has someone that is so important to him that he has to be in touch with them while he's collecting refuse, but I can't see the urgency of the call.

I don't understand the whole obsession with cell phones anyway. Yes, I have one, and yes I use it, but I rarely make or receive calls just while walking around in public. Yet, I can't walk one block in this (or any) city without counting at least a dozen people talking on their cell phones. And when I eavesdrop on their conversations1, at least 9 out of 10 calls do not need to be made. I'll hear people talking about what they had for dinner last night, who should win American Idol2, or what color that mole was that they had removed3. I don't think this is something I'd want the entire train car to hear. Maybe it's just me.

Update: I just read this at theonion.com, and I thought it was appropriated to this post:
Local Woman Dies Of Lost Cell Phone
APALACHICOLA, FL—Catherine Polk, 24, died at a local Starbucks Monday afternoon, due to complications resulting from the tragic loss of her cell phone. "It was horrible—Cathy didn't have any of her numbers written down anywhere else, and she was waiting on a call about last-minute tickets for a concert," said best friend Melissa Barreth, who was with Polk when she first discovered that her Cingular V400 quad band/GSM cell phone was not in her purse. "We tried everything to find it, but in the end, there was nothing we could do." The coroner's report confirmed that Polk died of a sudden lack of wireless service.

1 For research purposes, not to snoop around.
2 Which, unless they are talking to Simon or Paula Abdul is just not necessary
3 Mine was paisley

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Patent Explosion

Will the avalanche of posts ever end? Here's an update from my ridiculously long post with a ridiculously long title from yesterday... I found another article about the book (this time from Scientific American that I found through I/P Update, another IP law blog.

This article goes into much more detail about the authors' theories... but they don't sound any more right. Here they say that some changes in how patents are dealt with (first with the formation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals, and second changing the funding for the patent office from tax-payers to fees collected from applicants, thus making the patent office a "for-profit" organization) have "resulted in an explosion in patents granted" from an annual increase of about 1% from 1930-1982 to almost 6% from 1983-2000.

I'm reminded of my statistics course discussion on correlation... just because two things happen at around the same time doesn't mean one is the cause of the other, because there might be another explanation. What could another explanation be here? What technology might have been emerging, and then exploding, in mainstream America in the early 1980's? Hmmmm, what am I writing this blog on right now?

Oh that's right! Computers! Those things really seemed to be useful to the average person and business in the early 1980's, didn't they? Do you think that has anything to do with the "patent explosion"1? What about the biotech boom of the 1990's on top of computers? That has nothing to do with it, huh?

Plus, everbody knows that you can cite made-up or irrelevant statistics to support your point... 69% of researches do it all the time.

1 Which is nowhere near as cool as the "Latin Explosion," , no matter how much us patent attorneys and agents wish upon a star.

Celebrity Twigs

Is anyone really surprised that one of the Olsen Twigs (oops! I mean Twins) has an eating disorder?

Able To Read Tall Books In A Single Commute?

Does Jeremy take the subway from Atlanta... or the moon? How else can he can read an entire book during one day of commuting? I consider myself a pretty fast reader, but I could never read a whole book during my commute, even if I had 1 to 1 1/2 hours each way (unless what I was reading was less like a book, and more like Sports Illustrated).

Remember That Mailing?

Most of you would have no reason to remember the mailing I was doing for the local IP law association I am in, but I have an update. All the bureaucracy about the mailing has finally been bypassed (much of which was Unreasonable bureaucracy, if you know what I mean1), and the last 140 letters (approx.) are going out today... about 4 months after I started sending out letters. Nothing earth shattering about it... I am just happy to have done something for this association.

1 That's just the author's nice way of saying a lot of the delay was his own damn fault

"I Have No Tolerance For Lactose... And I Won't Stand For It"1

How much must it suck to be lactose intolerant? Imagine not being able to have cheese, which means no pizza, milk, which means no hot chocolate (good hot chocolate), no cream, which means no Bailey's, and most dreadful of all, NO ICE CREAM!

My vote is it would suck more than Ahh-nold in Around the World In 80 Days... more than Ishtar... even more than Jenny McCarthy trying to get a part in a movie2

1 Bonus points for anyone who can name that quote... at the end of the judicial season, you can cash your bonus points in for free posts by the Unreasonable Man! Redeemable at any internet-connected computer near you!
2 Too far?

Monday, June 21, 2004

I'm Batting A Thousand

I've broken 1000 hits for this blog! Sure it's a puny number compared to some, but I didn't really ever expect to reach more than 52, 53 hits. Maybe once every few weeks. So, those of you who visit regularly... Thanks! Those of you who have linked to me THANKS! Those of you who haven't done either... SHAME ON YOU!

As I mentioned before, I finished Brush With The Law last week, and I thought it was pretty good. For those who haven't read it, Brush is about two former law students, one for Harvard and one from Stanford, who had interesting, and for the most part depraved experiences in law school. OK, depraved isn't fair... but certainly not mainstream. One of them basically became a compulsive gambler and they other was a crack fiend for most of 1st and 2nd year. As a story about law school will be... this book probably won't be very helpful for you. But, as a good story that's interesting to read, it was really good.

The one law school related thing I really liked was one of the author's description of the personality types of "Zero-Summers" and "Cold-Stovers."

"Zero-Summers" are the people who think law school, and life, are a game where there have to be winners and losers, and in order to be a winner, someone else has to be a loser (so you're "scores" add up to zero). These are the people who intimidate others by laughing when they give the wrong answers, are quick to show you their A's, and will run from you rather than show you their C's. "Cold-Stover" came from the author's grandfather. At Thanksgiving, the grandfather's dog reached up onto a hot stove, burned its paw and ran away. The grandfather said "That dog won't ever touch a hot stove again... but he won't touch a cold one either." The point being that the Cold-Stovers of law school are the people who were "burned" before (a thought they would be burned) by not studying and getting a bad grade, by trying something daring and getting hurt (physically or emotionally), etc., and now they are so scared of being burned again, they won't ever go near a cold stove for fear that it is a hot one.

I thought these were great terms that painted a vivid picture in my mind of some of the people that I may meet while in law school. And as I mentioned, the book was very good as a story and an entertaining read. The only small criticism I have is that the end just kind of ends, especially for one of the authors. There isn't much of a resolution, or if there is a resolution, it just sort of happens without much discussion. Otherwise, a good quick read.

How To Write A Ridiculously Long Title To Reduce The Effectiveness Of Whatever It Is You Are Writing About And What To Do About It

A recent article about the poorly titled book How Our Broken Patent System Is Endangering Innovation and Progress And What To Do about It (from the Financial Times, which I found from a good patent law resource, Patently Obvious).

The premise of this book, according to the article, is that the Patent Office is approving patent applications too easily so that people are getting patents they shouldn't, and that this is, as the title indicates, endangering innovation and progress.

Without having read the book, I can't speak too much to their theories, but my guess is that they probably wrong, or at least partly wrong. Here's my reasons of why I believe this.
1) Having successfully gotten at least half a dozen patent applications through the patent office for our clients1, I can say that it is anything but easy to get a patent application through the patent office... or at least a patent application that is broad enough to cover the patentee's actual invention, and competitors' attempts at getting around the patent.

2) The authors contend (according to the article) that the patent office is letting a higher percentage of patents through then it used to by stating that more and more applications are those that have been "previously rejected and have been refiled"2 in an attempt to get the patent through (effectively saying that for many applications, there are two or three filings for the patent that gets through... making it look like a 33% allowance rate, when it is really 100%).

First, at least about 90% (and probably more like 99% or more) of all patent applications are rejected by the patent office at least once, so being rejected and then allowed is not a new phenomenon. Second, a RCE application (see footnote) is not "refiling," so the statistics of the patent office (which say that the percent of applications allowed is approximately the same now as it was in 1983) do not support the authors arguments of an inflated approval rate. And third, if an application is rejected a lot then the patent will not be very strong anyway. The trend of patent case law right now is not in favor of someone who makes a lot of attempts at a application while trying to get the patent. So assuming that it is true that more applications are getting through, the additional applications are weaker and will not have much of an effect, positive or negative, on innovation.

3) The authors say that "patent examiners have more of an incentive to approve patents than to disapprove them since their bonuses and promotions are based on how productive they are.... Rejected patents take more time to process." While it is true that rejected patents take more time to process, and examiners are evaluated by their productivity... as far as I know, examiners are not evaluated on their productivity of how many applications they allow... but almost exactly the reverse. They are evaluated by how many "office actions" they can turn around, and rejections are preferred because the patent office can collect more fees if you have to file an RCE without having to do much work.

4) Although not really mentioned in the article, but emphasized in the book title, is the age old argument that patents stifle innovation. This is just pure crap... and it is pure crap that has been around for years. Although counter-intuitive, patents encourage innovation. The whole point of a patent is for the patentee to publicly announce his invention to the world, and explain how it works so that the public will be in possession of the invention. In return, the patentee is giving a temporary right to exclude others from "making, using, or selling" the invention. On it's face, I can see how this appears to hurt innovation... but to really see how patents help strengthen innovation, you have to take it a step further. Because it is required that you publicly (in the form of the published application) described the invention, it gives competitors a chance to "pick apart" the invention and figure out (one might even say "innovate") their own solutions to the same problem.

If there were no patents, there would be no incentive for anyone to make their invention public... so there would be less knowledge out there. Instead they would do everything they can to hide the invention from their competitors... the same competitors who would have invented new solutions. In particular, small inventors would be screwed, because they would have no way of marketing their inventions without some huge corporation unscrupulously stealing the idea and selling it cheaper and better than the little guy.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the premise of this book. It could be that they have done impeccable research to back up their claims, in which case all of my critique would probably be wrong... but I doubt it3. These same patent "problems" have been around forever, but they aren't really problems, they're just the natural expansion of technology and business. However, I do look forward to reading the book when it comes out this fall.

1 With a lot of help and guidance from my boss/mentor
2 Called a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) or sometimes a Continuation application, unless it is filed with new material, called "new matter," then it is a Continuation-In-Part application.
3 On the impeccable research... not that I could be wrong, that is still entirely possible, maybe even likely

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Mozart and Spielberg

My wife and I went to Marriage of Figaro at the Ravinia Festival yesterday. Ravinia is a summer concert series with a wide variety of music types (Friday night was Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds, Saturday Marriage of Figaro, on June 30 it's Lyle Lovett... so you get an interesting mix). You pay $10 and you bring some lawn chairs and sit out and listen to some great music... plus you can bring in your own food. Some people go all out. We saw people who brought in small tables with candles, wine, cheese, fried chicken, barbecue, you name it. It got a little cold toward the end (the temp dropped down to low 50's), and the Starbucks stand was swamped. I felt bad for the high school kids who were having to run around and make all these coffees when they normally probably don't have to do much (it's a summer festival, so they probably don't sell a lot of hot coffee).

After the concert we went and saw The Terminal, the new Steven Spielberg movie with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It's about a man name Viktor Navorski (Hanks) who is from the ficticious (at least I think so) country of Krakoshea (Crack-co-je-a) (I have no idea if the spelling is right). While Viktor was en route to New York, a military coup erupted in his Eastern European homeland, so his passport was no good, and he couldn't go back home until the war had settled down. He also couldn't enter the U.S., so he was forced to stay in the International terminal of the JFK airport. Once you get past the leap of faith it takes to accept this fact pattern, the movie is about Viktor's attempts to cope with his situation, the airport's immigration security chief (Stanley Tucci) attempts to "deal" with Viktor and Viktor's new friends (a baggage handler (Chi McBride, from TV's "Boston Public"), a airline food delivery guy (Diego Luna, Y Tu Mama Tambien), and a janitor (Kumar Pallana, very funny character)). Viktor endears himself to the the entire terminal staff (except for Tucci's character) because he is so friendly and helpful. Eventually, Viktor meets a flight attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones) with problems of her own, and they become friends... and maybe more.

I thought this was a great movie. It's funny, Tom Hanks was great as a kind of straight man character who is very funny (a la Catch Me If You Can), and the supporting cast was very good. I especially like Kumar Pallana as the Indian janitor Gupta who likes to watch people who slip and fall on his recently mopped floor because they don't pay attention to the "Wet Floor" signs. The ending was a little bit of a let down that didn't completely conform with the rest of the movie, but otherwise I really liked it. At least 3 out of 4 stars, probably 3 1/2.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and Summer Solstice... YEAAAAAAAH SUMMER!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Happy B-Day To My Wife! Part II

I got to go out to lunch today (I normally just bring a lunch in and eat it in our kitchen or at my desk to save money) to buy my wife her birthday present and a card1, and it was absolutely gorgeous out today. I have to remember that when it is a nice day out, I shouldn't go out to lunch... because I may never come back.

Anyway, I hope my wife enjoys the gift. I'm not going to tell you what it is yet... because she reads this blog regularly and I don't want her finding out ahead of time2. I'm taking her out to dinner tonight, and then we might see The Terminal or The Stepford Wives, or we'll do something completely different.

1 I know what you're thinking... "You forget to get her a present before her actual birthday!? What kind of a husband are you?" Well clearly a not great one. To be fair to me (which I have a strong interest in doing), I already knew exactly what I was getting, and just didn't pick it up until today (not that it makes it any better), and her parents and siblings are coming to Chicago next week to do the family celebration, so it kind of slipped my mind that "Duh, it's still her birthday, and she needs a present now... not next week."
2 Although she told me what she wanted, so it won't be a big surprise.

Happy B-Day To My Wife!

Today is my wife's birthday... so any post today will have some reference to her, her wonderfulness, or to her birthday. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY!

I'm still trying to collect my thoughts on recent events in my life, and in the world. I'm going to trying avoiding comments on the whole "Saddam-al Qaeda" were they are weren't they working together fiasco and the recent report by the 9/11 Commission, both of which are covered better by the Chicago Tribune (links to Chi. Trib. stories), the New York Times, CNN, etc.

So, I'm going to talk about my feelings associated with... {SOB} "Bachelor" Palmer breaks up with choice. What kind of a world do we live in where a man slowly whittles a large group of women down to his one "true love," on national TV, and then they break up after a month? I'm so disillusioned! {Throwing myself in the unreasonable fire}. I find it funny that none of the five "Bachelors"1 have ended up with the woman they chose, but both of the "Bachelorettes"2 are either married or engaged to their guy. You think the Bachelors might have chosen their "match" without fully thinking it through?

Let's just do the math here... there are 7 different seasons of Bachelor/Bachelorette, 2 Joe Millionaires (I am ashamed to admit I watched the original religiously), at least 2 "For Love of Moneys", 2 or 3 "Temptation Islands", 1 "Paradise Hotel" (again, ashamed to admit that I loved), infinite "Elimidates"3, "Meet My Folks", "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé" (a parody, but it still counts), "Who Wants To Marry My Dad", "The Littlest Groom", "The Divorcée" (OK, I made that one up), and "I'm In Love With An ocelot" (that one too). That's at least 18 million of these "reality" dating shows, and I'm sure there are several billion more that I forgot, or just didn't know existed. That's quite a list of ingredients for the downfall of society, of which I am an admitted partaker.

OK, I kind of got distracted there. In other news about me, my presentation to the firm went well, but I won't go into details... because it would be really boring. I'm still thinking about my review of Brush With The Law, but I'll get to it.

1 Have there seriously been five different seasons of "The Bachelor"? Who still watches these?
2 And TWO seasons of "The Bachelorette"?
3 I actually know someone who was on an episode of Elimidate... He got really drunk, because the show kept feeding him drinks, and he lost.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Fantasy Blogging

This week's Sports Illustrated has an interesting article on Fantasy Sports (Fantasy Football, Fantasy Baseball, etc.) which is now a $1 Billion+ "industry". I never really got into the whole fantasy sports thing. When I was 10 or so, I "helped" my dad with a Rotisserie Baseball1 league at his work... and it was kind of fun, but after that we never did it again. It seems there are fantasy leagues for everything, Fantasy NASCAR, Fantasy Bass Fishing, Fantasy Soccer (which the Brits, of course, call Fantasy Football), and Fantasy Cricket (big in India).

"So what does this have to do with law school?" you may ask2. Well, there is even... and I could not make this up... a Fantasy Supreme Court League, where you predict the Nine Robes rulings and what the vote will be for each case during a Supreme Court "Season" (October-June) to win points. I don't know whether this is sad or interesting.

I have tons of stuff to blog about that I hope to get to today, so check back regularly. Over and out.

1 The original incarnation of Fantasy Baseball
2 As if I've NEVER gone off topic before

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Why You Wanna Treat Him So Bad?

In honor of this story about Prince, here is a return to the:

Song Lyric For Today - As Related to the News
Why you wanna treat me so bad
When you know I love you?
How can you do this to me
When you know I care?
Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad? by Prince

I love Prince's music... you have to if you're a Minnesota resident... but siccing your bodyguard on a fan because he took a picture of you with a digital camera, and then countersuing the guy for copyright and trademark infringement (which according to the article is a paper thin legal argument) just doesn't seem like good public relations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Brush With The Law

I finished Brush With The Law last night. I liked it, although it was a bit surreal. I will write some kind of a book review in the next day or to. The authors claim this is the true story of their experiences in law school, and how they coped... here's a sneak peak, they take it to extremes. More to come.

Change of topic... I believe this is my first three-post day. I actually have some more stuff that happened to me today that I could post about... but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Variety Is The Spice Of Work

One thing I love about work, particularly in a small firm, is the variety of work experiences. Obviously as a patent agent my main job function is writing patent applications and shepherding them through the patent office to get patents for our clients, but I also get to experience several other types of work that goes into legal work. I've already mentioned the legal research I've worked on, and some of the legal writing I've had a hand in, but today I've been given the task of updating our firm's website. It has gotten a little stale, and we want to reexamine it from a marketing standpoint and spruce it up to drive more clients our way. It's interesting work because how you present the content is just as important as what the content actually is1.

I also get do a quick presentation to the firm on a recent patent case (in case you're curious, the case is Honeywell International Inc. v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2004), there's a good short summary of the case at Patently Obvious), so I've gotten a quick update on the law of prosecution history estoppel2, and I get some practice on trying to explain something to people who don't know much about it, including our new patent agent and our new law clerk (I'm sorry, summer associate), neither of which have experience in patents.

Variety is a good thing.

1 Much like writing a blog, where things can easily be taken out of context... see the last few days for examples
2 Basically, what you say and do while trying to get a patent application will limit how strong your patent is once it issues... kind of the "Anything you say can and will be used against you" of patent law. Aren't legal terms great? They make everything sound complicated, even if they are simple.

Eurotrip for the 'Rents

My parents left for a much deserved trip to Europe on Sunday, and they should be in Paris now without access to the internet... so I am free to make fun of them now!1

I am very happy that they are able to take this trip. They've saved and sacrificed a lot to get where they are now (including raising a fairly respectable human being and marrying him off to an even more respectable wife who will keep him in line, putting me through school so I had no debt when I graduated2, helping out with our first home purchase by co-signing on the loan and helping out with the down payment and closing costs3, and generally just being great examples of how to be a good parent and human being), and they deserve a great vacation now and then.

I hope they have a wonderful trip, and I can't wait to see my dad's digital picture slide show when they return4.

1 Just kidding
2 I didn't realize how awesome this was of them until I started seeing how much law school is going to cost, and how much loan money I have to take out.
3 As if they hadn't already provided enough
4 Sure my mom and I tease him about them, but he sure puts together a mean slide show

Monday, June 14, 2004

Quote from the Real World

When I was in law school, I knew that part of being a good lawyer is being able to tolerate a certain amount of bulls**t. So I looked at law school as a way of testing my BS threshold.
- My boss at lunch today

We have a summer associate1 starting today, and my boss and I took him to lunch. My boss was giving some advice to our new guy, and he uttered the pearl shown above... which I think is funny.

From what I've heard, this is fairly accurate... that there are a lot of things you have to do in law school, or people you have to deal with that make you want to scream "Bulls**t!"2, but you learn to control it and deal with the BS until you become an effective lawyer. Any current students want to confirm or argue with this logic... comment away!

1 I think they used to call them clerks... but all the clerks went away and were replaced by summer associates
2 Or, if you're from South Park, Colorado "Shenanigans!"

Is That REALLY What I Sound Like On The Internet?

Extreme thanks to Jeremy Blachman and Notes from the (Legal) Underground for linking to my blog. Obviously Jeremy is the Godfather in the blawging world (the Blawgfather?)... before his link I was averaging 20 or so hits a day, since... about 70. Thanks!! I feel like I have to be "on" now that I have some actual readers.

I just don't know what to do with myself now that I actually have some readership. Apparently, I come off as kind of an asshole on this1, which I guess, deep down, I can be. But it was still amazing to hear it from someone willing to say it out loud (albeit hiding behind anonymity). The only thing I want to argue against, if I may stray off topic for awhile, is the accusation that I am a chauvinist, especially towards my wife. The commenter used actual quotes from my blog (one being "My salary is much greater than my wife's," the other being "And besides, my wife really didn't want to live there anyway") to support this theory. To be fair, taken out of context, these do sound kind of prickish of me... especially the one about salary. Truth be told, this past year, my wife has been a student, and I have been supporting us. So, literally, my salary was much greater than hers, because she wasn't working. Next year, the tables will be turned, and she will be working and supporting us while I am in school, for which I am very grateful. Even though it will be difficult living off one person's salary while one of us is in law school, I'm looking forward to it, because many people have told me that shared hardship is what really brings a couple together2

The second comment was meant to be sarcastic (it is hard to show sarcasm in writing, alas there there is no sarcasm tag in html)... and in no way mean to imply that my wife had no say in my decision on law school. In fact, I'm going to Minnesota because both of our families are up there... and I probably wouldn't have chosen Minnesota if I were single and choosing only for myself (they offered me less $$$ than other schools, and there's a higher cost of living).

I have more respect for my wife than anyone on the planet. She's smarter than me, and has a better sense of humor than most people I know. Thankfully, unlike my anonymous fan, she finds much of what I write here funny, and gives me the benefit of the doubt when I write something that could be taken as either sarcastic or malicious... assuming that I meant it to be sarcastic and funny (even if it wasn't funny).

As for coming off like an asshole... I know I'm not really an asshole in real life, my wife knows it, and my friends know it. So if I come across that way on this blog... well, I guess that's my blog persona. And if I'm a little bit entertaining because of, or despite, it, than great. If not... oh well.

1 At least according to the anonymous commenter from Friday's post
2 Including my parents, who have told me on a few occasions about shipping off to the Phillapeans during the Vietnam almost immediately after getting married, isolated from their families by half a world, and how it fostered a closeness they didn't have before.

Friday, June 11, 2004

And Now Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Blogging

Our realtor and parents inspected our townhouse yesterday (Wife and I are in Chicago, townhouse is in Minnesota, so we couldn't be there). Apparently there are some things wrong with the house... nothing major, just little maintenance issues that need to be taken care of. That's probably normal, but the townhouse is only 2 years old, so there is no reason to have too much wear and tear on the house.

In other news, I finished up a huge patent application yesterday, and I will be finishing another patent application today. Both projects took way too long. Not necessarily because I was inefficient1, but because circumstances made it difficult to get the projects done quickly. For example, in one of the cases, the inventors left on a business trip in Europe right after I gave them drafts of the application to review... so I didn't get comments for over 3 weeks (comments normally take 1 or 2 days). Oh well, sometimes that's how things go.

I watched part of Arsenic and Old Lace last night with Wife. I do know one thing, if I could choose to be like anyone in the world... it would be Cary Grant. That cat is smoooooooooth. And I'm guessing he didn't have too much trouble with the ladies back in his day2. Heck, he's dead and he still probably wouldn't have much trouble with the ladies.

1 Although that was a factor
2 Note to Wife... obviously I no longer have a need for this skill, but it would still be nice to have.

I've Got Criticism Now!1

Another legal blogger, Greg Geolzhauser, has linked to my post about personal jurisdiction, taking me to task about my symptoms of gunnerism1. To be fair, Greg's post was obviously in jest (mostly), but I want to respond briefly.

The rumor I desperately want to dispel is Greg's implied allegations that I am a gunner who is merely trying to "get ahead" of my fellow classmates. While it is true I am reading the E&E primers2, I am mostly doing it for my own peace of mind. As my regular readers will know, I am married and we recently bought a townhouse for our move back to Minnesota. I figured I am going to have enough stress as it is when law school starts (No Money, NO Money, NO MONEY!), so why not see some of the terminology and concepts ahead of time? It's only my time I'm wasting.

I am in no way trying to read ahead to be one of the pricks that you hear about... who reads everything ahead of time, and then pretends like they just get it, and that you must be stupid because you have to put in a little work. I have never, to my knowledge, been one of those guys, and I don't want to start now. If I do become one of those pricks, I give everyone at Minnesota permission to gang up on me and beat the pre-learned information out of my head... although you'll have to get in line, because Wife will already be there taking the first few swings.

1 There's no such thing as bad publicity
2Among his other complaints, are my liberal use of footnotes2a
3 (Foot)note to Greg, I actually already have read the Torts, Contracts, and Property primer... so you may want to update your post accordingly.

2aTake That! A foot-footnote

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Pink Houses?

I've been doing some legal research for a patent litigation case our firm is working on, and looking at the file for the litigation, it is not hard to see why lawyers can make a lot of money, and why litigation can cost so much. Our case is very early in the preliminary stage (not even really into discovery, just a lot of preliminary motions and stuff) and the file is already about 1 1/2 inches thick, and has 25 separate sets of documents (and that's just the official documents that have been filed with the court). That may not sound like a ton of documents... but it starts to sound more expensive when you realize that each document, even the most mundane and small, took the attorney at least an hour or two of time... billed at $300 to $500 an hour (or more). Most of the documents in that stack probably represent at least $10,000 worth of legal work, so we're talking a total of $250,000 (total for both sides) of legal work since January. I myself have spent about 15 to 20 hours just on my legal research, and writing up the memo summarizing the research, and while my billing rate is nowhere near as high as my bosses is, that's still a few thousand in services... and we aren't even into the "heavy lifting" yet, where each side could ring up $100,000 per month in legal bills... just for the privilege of maybe winning and not having to pay more.

Ain't that America, home of the free (just not the free legal service)... it kind of brings a tear to your eye.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Gipper On A Greenback

So apparently the conservatives want to supplant Alexander Hamilton and put Reagan on the $10 bill. I think this is a monumentally bad idea.

First, I am no great fan of Alexander Hamilton (in fact some of what I have read about him suggests he was fairly fanatic about some things), but he was a visionary when it comes to economics, and deserves the honor of remaining on our currency.

Second, Reagan was not an attractive man (not that Hamilton necessarily was), and I don't want to be looking at the face of a man who was a movie star with a primate every time I buy a pack of gum.

Third, give the idea a little time. The man just died on Saturday... maybe you want to let the idea sit for, I don't know, A WHOLE WEEK before radically changing the appearance of our currency.

If you still feel that Reagan should be on our money, put him on one of the really big denominations that nobody uses anyway. Go back to printing the $500 or the $1000 again and stick the Gipper on there. Or create a crazy denomination, like the $478.26 bill, so Reagan doesn't have to go where some old dude has been before. That way Reagan's awesome economic power can trickle down to the lesser denominations, benefiting even the lowly Abraham Lincolns and George Washingtons of the currency wielding world.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Unreasonable Homestead Act of 2004

Wife and I made the very adult1 act of making an offer on a townhouse this weekend. We're both very excited, but a little bit terrified because it is a lot of money... and you throw law school debt on top of it, and it starts to look pretty scary in the coming years. But, we talked to both sets of parents, and they agreed that it is probably a good idea.

Speaking of a lot of money, when I was up in Minnesota I was driving along and I looked up at a gas station where the gas was $1.89/gallon and I thought to myself "Holy Shit! That's really cheap!" A year ago I never could have imagined thinking that $1.89 a gallon is cheap for gas2, and now I was almost giddy with excitement over a sub $1.90 gallon of gas. The times they are a changin'.

I also want to say a belated word en memoriam regarding President Reagan3 and for the men who fought and died during D-day (and all of WW II), as Sunday was the 60th anniversary of the largest amphibious military landing in modern history.

1 And clearly insane
2 Or milk for that matter
3 Whose politics I didn't really agree with, but I still have enormous respect for him

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Leaving For The Weekend

5:00 p.m. As I mentioned earlier, tomorrow is my little sister-in-law's high school graduation up in Minnesota, so I get to take off work tomorrow1, which is great... but, I have a lot of stuff I still need to get done, and it's 5 pm here2. Hopefully, I will be able to get it all finished. I really only have one big thing and one small thing left to do. The big thing is almost done. But, I haven't even started the small thing (but it's small). I really should quit wasting time blogging, but I felt compelled to get something down because I'll be incommunicado over the weekend. So, enjoy my misery.

Update, 5:35 p.m. Finished with the small thing (I told you it was small)

Update, 9:05 p.m. Finished with the BIG thing (I told you it was big)

2 SUCK!!!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Pink Haze... In the Throes Of Benadryl

I have allergies. They only stick around for 3-4 weeks from late May to Mid-June, and they aren't completely unbearable (although my coworkers might disagree, what with all the sneezing), so I haven't bothered to go to an allergist. This has forced me to resort to over-the-counter "remedies" like Benadryl, which actually works pretty well. Unfortunately, Benadryl is notorious for making people drowsy1. It's kind of a double-edged sword. I either take the Benadryl and stumble through the morning in my "Pink Haze"2, OR I neglect to take it, and spend the day sneezing every few seconds. Today I chose the haze.

1 Don't believe me?... Benadryl and most sleep aides have the same active ingredient, in the same dosage.
2 Benadryl comes in obnoxiously pink pills

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Free Lunch

Like I do most mornings before work, I packed a lunch this morning1. And, like I've done several times before, I left the damn thing on my kitchen table, which, hopefully, my cats haven't eaten yet.

Don't you hate it when that happens? You put in all that work2 to make a lunch, usually to save a little money, and you don't bring it so you are forced to go out anyway and buy lunch.

Luckily, I was rescued because a new employee started today, and my boss took him out to lunch, and I got to go too. Woo-Hoo! Free lunch, and I already have my lunch packed for tomorrow, assuming there is no feline interference. Back to work.

1 Nothing special, just a turkey sandwich with wholesome Kraft Singles cheese (with 2 cups of milk in every slice, not vegetable oil like the other brands), some grapes, and an apple
2 We're talking almost two whole minutes of my precious morning prep time

Does This Blog Have Personal Jurisdiction Over Me?

I must admit, I was a little nervous when my boss asked me to do some legal research on personal jurisdiction for a patent litigation case he is working on... I haven't even started law school yet, and he wanted me to research a point of law that this case could hinge on1. Talk about pressure! While I am still nervous about it, I have found it really interesting. First off, I get to do my research based off the Motion to Remove a defendant for lack of personal jurisdiction that the defendant filed, so I am pretty much just looking for cases that show the defendant is wrong. That's fun, trying to find ways to stick it to our opponent. Second, ironically, I just started reading Glannon's E&E primer on Civil Procedure, and what's the first topic covered in the E&E primer.. . why, I do believe it is Personal Jurisdiction. So I get some hands on experience not only looking for arguments we can raise, but also learning about this (apparently) fundamental aspect of civil procedure.

In other news..., as I predicted, the T-wolves were toast in last night's loss to the Lakers. I actually thought they had a shot when they rode the storm in the first half and came back to take the lead... plus they had Shaq, Kobe, and Karl Malone in foul trouble... but then Kareem Rush (frickin' Kareem Rush) buried like 6 thousand 3 pointers2. Oh well, they had a good year... if the Wolves can just get another scorer and a real center3, preferably as one in the same person, then they will be able to compete.

Is the movie White Chicks with Shawn and Marlon Wayans going to be the worst movie of the summer? Of the year? Of the decade? I really think it looks awful... and with the media blitz I am seeing (billboards everywhere, a commercial every commercial break, and internet ads aplenty), I am guessing that my guess is not far off. Why would they hype it so much unless it couldn't hype itself? I've found that movies that advertise so much that you see the ads without even paying attention really, really suck.

1 OK, OK... not the case, but the motion he is working on could hinge on my research
2Fine, it was 6 three pointers, or 18 points... lets see, the T-Wolves lost by 6, so those three pointers may have had something to do with it.
3Michael Olowokandi does not count