September 2006 Archives

Our new apartment has an electric fireplace with a fully simulated flickering flame. Ever since we moved in, I've been wondering how it works. One night I tried to take the cover off to investigate after a few glasses of wine, and decided to abandon the project for various reasons. Last night, I finally broke down and asked the Internet.

I found several websites selling electric fireplaces, and two websites purporting to answer the question of how an electric fireplace works. The first is, which answers the question thusly:

An Electric Fireplace requires no venting or installation, simulates a fire very realistically and simply needs to be plugged in. Electric fireplaces may either be inserts that can be used in an existing fireplace or free-standing units designed to look like wood stoves.

An electric fireplace gives the exact look of a wooden fireplace with its flickering flame. It is an ideal alternative to traditional fireplaces. If you live in an apartment, condo or a house that doesn't support a chimney, the electric fireplace is the right choice for you. Some styles can be fitted even on a wall, and all you have to do is plug it in and sit back and enjoy warm, cozy ambience.

Some electric fireplace models give you the advantage of a remote control and all model provide freedom from ash, matchsticks or wooden logs. You can take this portable fireplace with you when you move, and it's hassle-free so you don't have to suffer a hectic installation or wiring program. Since there are no toxic fumes, it leaves your home clear and pollution-free.

The amount of warmth generated by an electric fireplace varies among manufacturers and models, but normally around 4,500 to 5,500 BTUs of heat is generated from an average unit. However, electric fireplaces are not intended to replace a heat source. They are built to provide comfort and a focal design element in a room.They even blend with your house decor, as they are available in a variety of designs and styles.

You'll notice that this describes what an electric fireplace is, but provides absolutely no information as to how the fake flame is created. Boo,

Next up was the FAQ section of, which includes this unhelpful exchange:

Q: The flame looks so real. How does it work?
A: Dimplex has developed a patented technology called ElectraFlametm which provides a realistic, wood-burning flame.

Little did Dimplex know that it had foisted its online vagueries at someone who is uncommonly familiar with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website! Some quick searching revealed a number of patents assigned to Dimplex, and in a few minutes I had figured out how the flame is created. Behold, U.S. Patent No. 6,385,881, "Synchronized flicker device"!

A device is provided for enhancing the realistic appearance of flames produced by a simulated fireplace (gas or electric) by providing additional ambient lighting effects in response to sensed light intensity within the fireplace. The device includes a photosensor, a control circuit, and display lighting. The photosensor senses the level of light intensity produced by a simulated flame source and changes its resistive value accordingly. The control circuit has circuit parameters which uses the resistive value of the photosensor to determine whether to apply operational power to the display lighting. The display lighting consists of at least one lamp positioned above the simulated fuel bed. When simulated fireplace is operational, the display lighting of the device produces a "flickering" effect that is synchronized with the changes in light intensity occurring within the fireplace. The resulting ambient lighting effect realistically mimics the changes in light intensity that normally occur above the flames of a real wood burning fireplace.

You lose this round, Dimplex!

Here We Go Again


Another nominally OCI-related post, which is odd considering I graduated law school over a year ago.

Let's see here, what's the word I'm looking for? Ah yes. "Unsustainable."

Also, apparently some BigLaw firms are reconsidering the custom of paying more in their New York offices than everywhere else. Indeed, Manhattan has the highest cost of living in the country. According to that CNN article, the $10K difference in salary doesn't even cover the difference between New York and San Francisco. So I, as a confirmed Californian, choose not to bitch.

I'm supposed to come up with an interesting fact about myself for an upcoming orientation. I'm a pretty boring person so I'm going to make something up. I need something that's wacky and interesting yet believable. Any ideas?

Here are some that I've come up with so far:

Shot a man in self-defense.

Dated Julia Stiles in high school.

State-wide collegiate fencing champion, 1999.

Reads "Missing Pets" section of newspaper every day to predict earthquakes.

Published best-selling memoir about my struggle with heroin addiction.

Able to accurately complete any crossword puzzle without looking at the clues.

Puts pants on two legs at a time (this is true, actually).

Founder of

Invented Sparx malt liquor.

Name That Dinosaur


We all know that dinosaurs never existed and the bones were planted by Satan to fool us away from God's truth, but does anyone know what the blue dinosaur in the lower left of this picture is called? I've been thinking it was a diplodocus but apparently I'm an idiot.

Legal Magazines are Stupid


The comedy-to-effort ratio of this is very low. I spent the better part of the afternoon Photoshopping this idiotic thing together, using my unreliable old laptop because we haven't installed Photoshop on the new puter yet.

That's about all I have to say about that. If you don't understand this comic strip please feel free to post it on a random forum so people can rail against it.


Someone posted a link to my comics page with the text "Speaking of obscenely unfunny webcomics." And a lot of video game-obsessed masturbators appear to be in agreement.

I'm sad now.


Somebody made this:

Okay, look, we're all very impressed. Seventeen years. Wow. That's a very long time to keep a series going. But hasn't the time come to lay the Simpsons to rest once and for all? Apparently not.

I don't remember when I stopped watching the show. It was certainly long after it stopped being funny. I think the last episode I watched may have involved Lisa winning American Idol. I remember disliking the show's increasingly implausible plot lines, excessive reliance on awkward guest star appearances, and episodes focusing more and more on the show's army of one-dimensional ancillary characters. This was to be expected. You have a show with a cast that doesn't age, you're going to run out of ideas after a while. And now, as the Simpsons enter their eighteenth season, they're remaining true to form:

Sunday's season opener (8 p.m. EDT) revolves around Homer's brush with mob life and includes Joe Mantegna as Springfield's big boss Fat Tony and Michael Imperioli and Joe Pantoliano of "The Sopranos."

In a September 17 episode with the White Stripes rock band, Bart is injured by a tiger that Lisa rescued and organizes a benefit concert to help pay for an operation on his drumming arm.

The landmark 400th half-hour, due to air next May, is a spoof of Fox's "24" that's titled "24 Minutes" and features the drama's Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub as their characters.

Does any of this sound interesting to anyone? More importantly, is there anything remotely new here? Another wacky, unlikely job for Homer? Another special guest appearance by a rock band? Lisa rescuing another animal? Bart becoming famous for some new reason? Another Fox crossover? And did anyone notice that there are already two episodes that are simply parodies of other, fresher TV shows?

This is just sad. How many more sharks are they going to jump?

Anonymity is the New Black


I deny all knowledge as to the identity of the child-loving do-gooder behind this newly minted blog. But I may or may not have been asked to post it here for the benefit of the readers of the blogger's erstwhile less anonymous blog who may wish to know where to find her (or him) these days.

Now Commander, that torpedo did not self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull, and I was never here.

The Littlest Law Clerk


Today the chambers staff for Fall 2006 became complete, with the arrival of Extern #3. Because the judge, her secretary, her courtroom deputy, my co-clerk, and Externs #1 and #2 are all older than I am, I was hoping that Extern #3 would be younger than me, so I wouldn't have to be the youngest person in chambers. No luck, alas. Extern #3 is two years older than I am.

So I guess I can add another office title to my ever-increasing list. For those keeping score at home, here are the titles my co-clerk and I have come up with for each other so far:

Senior Law Clerk
Admiral of Admiralty
The Smart One

Chief Science Officer*
Extern Captain First Class
The Funny One
The Baby

I now feel perfectly entitled to use a Stewie voice whenever I feel like it.

* Nobody in chambers is enough of a Star Trek fan to understand this reference, and truth be told I wouldn't come up with it were it not for Meli. Although I do have a certain degree of innate Star Trek fluency arising from my formidable nerd-dom.

Another New Strip

I did another new comic strip but I can't think of anything clever to say about it.

Junior associates do a lot of doc review, HURRRRRRRRRR.

Coffee Clutch


I've taken advantage of the three-day weekend to draw up a new comic strip. Actually, I drew this strip a while ago but have been too lazy to scan and post it. Mea culpa.

One of the more glaring differences between life as a gubment employee and life as a corporate shill is the morning coffee routine. At The Firm, coffee was provided to employees free of charge every morning by cheerful maintenance people. There were like five different kinds of coffee. For most of my first year at The Firm, people complained about the coffee because the coffee tasted bad. This may have been because the coffee was of poor quality, but some cursory investigation revealed that the cheerful maintenance people hadn't cleaned the coffee makers in a number of years.

The Associates Committee revolted, demanding better coffee from the management (I'm not making this up). At last, the management relented, and The Firm was visited by a representative from some sort of company that sells coffee to big corporate concerns like The Firm. The man held a coffee tasting, where we were invited to sample the offerings of Peet's, Starbucks, and Flavia. The guy pushed Peet's and Flavia hard. Flavia, in case you haven't had the pleasure, is a company that sells needlessly fancy machines that make fake, nasty-tasting espresso drinks from syrups and powders. It takes a lot of money to pay for the LCD display, the fun noises, and the fancy mylar packaging, so the quality of the end product suffers. During the tasting, I had a Milky Way Espresso Swirl. Imagine espresso from a mix, chocolate from a mix, vanilla from a mix, and caramel from a mix, all mixed together with hot water. That's what the drink tasted like. It also tasted like popcorn for reasons I haven't been able to figure out.

In the end, The Firm chose Peet's and Flavia, succumbing to the rep's hard sell. People were happy with the new coffee. They will likely remain happy for about two years until the coffee makers once again become unbearably crudded up. These are the kinds of tribulations America's lawyers must deal with.

Now, of course, my co-workers and I are forced to fend for ourselves in the coffee department. We buy our own coffee and filters and make it our damn selves. But at least we clean the pot.

Below is a chronicle of the internal monologue of a below-average moviegoer as he watches a movie comprised almost entirely of subtle yet overplayed cliches. The title of the movie is "American ________," and it's either about an American family that's anything but normal, a group of strangers who have nothing in common except the next 72 hours, or a hostile environment where mankind is the endangered species.

Early on in the film, a character makes a sarcastic, absurd comment about something, probably an ethnic group. Person #2, likely a member of said ethnic group, says "That's ridiculous."
Below-average moviegoer: Of course it is!
Person #2 then qualifies or corrects the absurd statement rather than denying it.
Below-average moviegoer: Oh man! That's so edgy!

Later, two people are having sex or otherwise engaging in some sort of erotic activity on a couch or bed.
Below-average moviegoer: All right!
A phone rings.
Below-average moviegoer: Uh oh!
One of the parties says "Let the machine get it."
Below-average moviegoer: Whew!
The answering machine message begins, delivering some important piece of news, and one party halts the action and springs into some other type of action.
Below-average moviegoer: Well, I was all excited about the sex, but now I'm even more excited about whatever's going to happen next!

Later, someone is standing in front of a medicine cabinet with the cabinet open.
Below-average moviegoer: Ah, the medicine cabinet. What could be safer? It's where people keep their important medications and toiletries. The character is just getting ready for work. Nothing to worry about here.
The character closes the medicine cabinet and sees something scary behind them in the mirror.
Below-average moviegoer: [Jumps, spills popcorn.]

Forty minutes into the movie, Christopher Walken shows up.
Below-average moviegoer: Hey! It's Christopher Walken!

As the action builds, a scene takes place in which two people are walking to a car. One person (probably the film's hero) is conveniently delayed, leaving them at a safe distance long enough for the other person to get in and start the car.
Below-average moviegoer: Sure, happens all the time. Nothing strange about two people walking to a car and one person standing exactly fifty feet away for a few seconds while the other person gets in and warms up the engine. Perfectly normal, every-day experience that does not portend danger of any kind.
When the person in the car starts the car, it explodes.
Below-average moviegoer: OMG!!!

Apropos of nothing, two hot girls kiss for less than five seconds.
Below-average moviegoer: I'm going buy this movie when it comes out on DVD.

"Of course I can do that. I know a great deal about computers, thereby enabling me to do absolutely anything."
Below-average moviegoer: That makes perfect sense. I wish I was a wise-cracking computer genius.

As we build toward the climax, it becomes clearer that the small, creepy child who's been showing up with increasing frequency holds the key to the mystery!
Below-average moviegoer: Wow, that kid is an amazing actor. S/He should win an Academy Award. Ha! Imagine that! A kid winning an Oscar! What a bold move that would be for the Academy! But worth it. This kid is amazingly talented. And pale.

Then, the black guy dies.
Below-average moviegoer: Oh no! And he was so close to reconciling things with his estranged wife a two adorable children.

And it was ________ all along!
Below-average moviegoer: Yeah, I totally called that.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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