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Sunday, March 15th, 2009
10:49 pm - That just about ruins an afternoon

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

One thing we noticed recently is that Claire tends to fall sound asleep when you get her out of the house and around noise and other people, so we wanted to head out to the beach today. Our first choice was Waikiki, but we forgot the Honolulu Festival Parade was today, and so parking was completely nonexistent.

So we went on to Waialae Beach Park, and when I was about to turn into a driveway to make a U-turn to park on the road, I put on my turn signal, slow down, start to turn, and suddenly, bang, thump, and there's a crashed moped on the road with its former rider sliding on the ground, stopping just behind a truck on the road.

For some bizarre, crazy reason, the guy (who wasn't wearing a helmet - heck, he wasn't wearing a shirt) decided to try to pass me on the left when I had come to a stop. I dunno how this was supposed to work, considering I was turning left, but it certainly didn't end well.

He's fine, we're fine, there's a huge dent in the driver's door and the driver's mirror is less attached than it should be, but that's really all. Thankfully even he was apologizing a lot and saying how dumb it was, or I'd be even more frustrated.

Have I mentioned I hate driving?

Plus this happened on a weekend when Claire decided to be angry and fussy all weekend long. What joy.

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Sunday, March 8th, 2009
2:07 pm - Target shows up

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

It's amazing how big a deal chain stores opening on the island is. The governor showed up at the opening of the first Walgreens on the island (which is hilarious, because it's not exactly that impressive - it's a pharmacy, after all, and the existing option - Long's Drugs - is actually much better), and I'm sure she showed up today for the grand opening of the two Target stores on the island.

Jamie went out to Target yesterday, and apparently it's a madhouse out there. For good reason, too - based on what she bought, Target's basically pricing things at mainland levels. That's a big deal here, since prices are normally 25% higher, but can sometimes be two or even three times as expensive depending on how much a grocery store wants to fleece its customers. One Target is apparently the largest in the world, since they moved into an old Costco building, so they've got a huge selection, too.

It's also a bit interesting in that they located one of the two stores in Kapolei, which is on the leeward (west) coast of Oahu. The leeward coast is sometimes called "up and coming," but the main reason for that is that it's the lowest-cost housing on the island since it's ridiculous to commute from there into town. A commute from Kapolei to the University runs ~2 hours in the morning, which is why you typically see people arrive at the University way early and sleep in the parking lot to avoid rush hour.

It's smart planning by Target: the leeward coast is relatively underdeveloped compared to the rest of the island, and the city's devoting heavy resources to build a light rail transit system which will cut commuting times to reasonable levels.

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Thursday, March 5th, 2009
9:29 pm - Not dead... yet

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

I pretty much haven't talked to anyone except family in a month. Sorry about that - honestly, it isn't me avoiding people now that I'm a dad or something like that. It's just that for the past two months, in the few minutes a day that Claire doesn't require constant attention, I've been trying to regain at least some portion of my sanity.

OK, OK, it's not that bad. Some days it is pretty bad, though: last Saturday Claire started fussing around 2:30 and stopped sometime after midnight. Our nerves were shot by around 9, so for three hours you had two short-tempered adults frustrated with each other and the whole situation along with a crying baby. Not a good situation.

My parents and aunt came last week, which was helpful and yet somehow still somewhat depressing. They confirmed that no, it isn't normal for a baby to be this fussy and crying, which is simultaneously relieving and frightening, because 1) I don't feel like a failed parent, but 2) something's wrong with my daughter.

On the plus side, I am really thankful that we randomly went with the best health care coverage, because Claire's already racked up over $10,000 in medical expenses. It's hilarious to get a bill that says "patient charges: $10,000+. you owe: $17."

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Saturday, February 7th, 2009
7:25 pm - Sleep deprivation is fun

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

Claire's been in the hospital since last Monday. At her last doctor's appointment, she was 24 days old, still under her birth weight, and had lost half an ounce from the previous week. Blood work taken that day showed elevated ammonia and lactic acid, so the doctor recommended we admit her so that they could watch how much she takes in, take more blood work, and get her weight up.

The good news is that the additional lab work came back fine, and so they went with putting her on Prevacid for acid reflux, along with Mylanta, Tylenol, and Mylicon drops. She's like a little pharmacy. So much fun. The additional stuff (other than the Prevacid) is basically pain management since repair of the esophagus can take 1-4 weeks (or more).

That reduced the pain and fussiness (along with shorter, more frequent feedings) but she still wasn't gaining weight, so we had to start fortifying breast milk and using 24-calorie per ounce formula to boost caloric intake.

Thankfully, that seems to have done the trick, since on Thursday she started gaining weight pretty fast (3 oz/day). She's past her birth weight now (yay, she's a functioning human being) and hopefully will be coming home Sunday.

Normally I'd put some comments on how difficult the experience has been, how it makes me feel, and all that, but I'm pretty much emotionally burnt out. It's been hard (really, really hard) but so long as she's gaining weight and growing, I'll be fine.

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
11:41 am - Genetics

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

It's weird seeing things you were learned behavior show up in a few-week old infant. When Jamie sleeps, she tends to pull something over her head (past her eyes); sometimes a pillow, but if not, her hands, or the blanket, etc. I didn't do that growing up - I've tended to recently, but it's more out of learned behavior from Jamie. Claire does it, though, and obviously she couldn't've learned it (cuz, uh, she can't see us sleeping).

Of course, while it's "huh, weird" behavior for an adult, it's "gee, that's annoying" behavior for an infant, as it doesn't fill me with warm fuzzies to see a baby covering her nose and eyes with her hand.

Claire's off to the hospital today to get an ultrasound. She's not gaining weight as well as the pediatrician would like (she's off-the-charts small, which worries me somewhat except for the fact that both Jamie and her brother were tiny at birth), and she's spitting up a fair amount, so they want to check that her stomach to make sure she doesn't have pyloric stenosis. She's also due back next week to check her weight gain - if she's still fussy and not gaining weight well (and the ultrasound's fine), she probably has gastroesophageal reflux disease, a wonderfully fancy word for 'frequent heartburn,' so they'll probably put her on Zantac to calm her stomach.

First time parenting is so fun! No, I don't spend most of my days terrified, why do you ask?

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Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
6:04 pm - Yawn

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

1) Website is back. Obviously.
2) Many more pictures of Claire here.
3) I'm pretty sure that being subjected to sleep deprivation, high pitched whines and screams, foul odors, and having sensitive body parts yanked is what the US got in trouble for in Abu Ghraib. And we're doing it willingly.

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Friday, January 9th, 2009
5:23 pm - Say hello!

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

Claire Marie Schirk Allison, 5 pounds 10.1 ounces, born 9:43 AM HST on January 9, 2009.

img_0920

Mom, Dad, and baby are all doing fine. A little exhausted after ~36 hours of labor, but fine.

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Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
7:37 pm - Tick, tock

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

Less than a week until the big day or so. We haven't had any false alarms yet, so it's been a pretty quiet month. Jamie was worried that given our luck, something would happen during the power outage, but nope. Baby seems determined to be born in 2009.

So, the baby's room's ready, there's a portacrib up in our bedroom, the house is mostly clean... and it's just waiting now, I guess.

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Saturday, December 27th, 2008
11:27 pm - What they don't tell you about the DTV transition

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

Those Digital TV transition commercials sure make it sound simple, don't they? Oh, you'll just need a converter box, and suddenly, everything'll be better! Easy as pie. And they'll help you out buying a converter box, too. How nice of them.

Sounds like everything's well organized, right? Uh, no. Hardly. See, it's not as simple as buying a converter box. Broadcasting in digital requires a second transmitter, so now each station's got two transmitters - one analog, one digital. So, since we're trying to minimize the loss of signal to consumers, the transmitters must be required to be in the same place, right? Nope. In some cases, like KHNL in Hawaii, the transmitters can be fifteen miles away on a ridge that's not visible to a good fraction of East Oahu, as opposed to their original transmitter in Honolulu.

Oh, and get this: since a huge chunk of bandwidth is opening up after the transition, a huge number of stations are going to switch frequencies before and after. Which means that for a lot of people, on transition day, they'll suddenly lose signal, even if they were already receiving it in digital. Now, some people might say "well, they just need to rescan," except depending on the antenna purchased, it might not be able to pick up the new frequency. Almost all digital TV stuff right now is in UHF - afterwards, some will switch down to VHF, and obviously a UHF-only antenna looks a lot different than a VHF/UHF antenna.

Basically, as far as I can tell, this is a disaster waiting to happen. Do you know where the stations new transmitters are? Do you know where they'll be afterwards? Whether or not they'll switch frequencies? Whether or not your antenna can pick them up? I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that thanks to KHNL, KGMB, and KHET moving to Palehua Ridge that "transition day" means "Pat gets basic cable" day. But that's only because I've done a fair amount of research and read on blogs that are written by people in the industry. How the heck is an average person supposed to figure this out?!

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Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
8:51 pm - Well, New York's out

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

Guess I'm never moving to New York if this goes through. A 15 cent tax on non-diet sodas? Are you kidding me? A quote from the article:

“It should be taxed, in fact there should be a federal tax on it,” said Dr. Carla Wolper, a nutrionist and registered dietitian with St. Luke’s Hospital Obesity Research Center in New York City. “Obesity is such a serious health problem and it’s something that can be controlled. So I say, absolutely, tax it.”

Hi, Dr. Woper. I'm a soda junkie. Colleagues from overseas stare at me in confusion when I order a full 1-liter soda for lunch. I'm also smack-dab where I'm supposed to be in terms of weight. Even more so, age-adjusted. Why should I get taxed because other people can't control how much soda they drink versus how much they exercise?

This isn't like cigarettes, or alcohol. Cigarettes affects everyone, and adds to medical health costs for everyone. Alcohol affects everyone, and adds to risk/injury concerns for everyone. Soda does nothing to a large percentage of the population. This is like taxing peanuts because they're dangerous to people with peanut allergies.

Or heck, why don't you tax television? Television discourages people from exercising. I'd bet that if you do a study, and compare kids who watch television versus kids who don't, the ones who watch TV will be overweight. Probably a lot more than those who drink soda. Clearly, TV should have a fat tax!

But hey, welcome to "somebody else's fault" country. You can't blame someone's actions. Then they wouldn't have anyone to blame but themselves!

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2:33 pm - Why Dell's power supplies suck

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

I'm surprised there isn't more information about this online, but Dell's laptop power supplies suck. They probably have a 1-year warranty, and that's about all they're good for. Sometimes less, depending on whether or not you're clumsy.

If you search for Dell power supplies failing, you'll find a fair amount of people complaining, and lots of other people saying "Just buy a new one." The problem is that it's not anything electronic that's failing. It's mechanical - so buying a new one just temporarily restarts the clock. It'll fail again.

So I now have three - count 'em, three - power supplies as large paperweights. None of them work, for three different reasons. One didn't seem to turn on no matter what when I plugged it in - it was intermittent for a while, then it just died, the end. On another one, the plug end - the part that plugs into the laptop - frayed and wore. The third one is no longer recognized as a valid power supply.

As it turns out, they're all the same problem. The power supply itself is decent. It's made by a company called Delta Electronics, and it's got overvoltage, overpower, overtemperature, and short-circuit protection. This is good. The problem is that whoever assembled it into a case is a monkey.

The cable to the laptop has three wires - it's a triaxial wire. It looks like:

The center conductor is a data wire, for reading the power adapter information. The middle conductor is power, and the outer conductor is ground. Obviously, when you split these signals into three wires to solder them to the board, you need to cut back the insulation, right? Which means you need heatshrink in order to keep the power, ground, and data separate.

Problem: heatshrink has nothing to keep it in place except friction. Yank on a cable, and it'll compress the heatshrink, and start moving it backwards. Unless you use glue to keep the heatshrink in place (this is why they sell heatshrink with heat-activated glue on the interior. Dell - or whoever made the power supply - didn't do this. They basically didn't leave any margin for the power/ground to safely stay apart from each other.

So, probem #1: using triax wire for power conducting on the outer two wires is mind-blowingly stupid. You're guaranteeing that with sufficient strain, you'll short the cable. Brilliant!

Problem #2: Not using bonding heatshrink.

Problem #3: Not allowing sufficient safety margin between where the power/ground separate to insure they won't short against each other. It was maybe 2-3 mm. At most.

So, my recommendation to anyone that has a dead PA-10/PA-12 power supply, and I'd imagine there are a lot. Measure the resistance from power (not the center pin, the metal inner lining) and the outer conductor (ground). Measure the resistance from the center pin to power/ground. Probably one of those is zero - it was in all three of my cases.

Crack open the case, using pliers and way more strength than is necessary. Then desolder the cable, re-heatshrink it (much better, obviously) with a bit of glue to hold it down, and reinstall it. Poof, a Dell power supply that might last more than a year.

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Monday, December 15th, 2008
9:56 pm - WTF Heroes?!

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

"What exactly are you asking for, Senator?"
"I want to round them up, and put them in a facility..." With giant robots! Robots that shoot lasers out of their eyes! Wait, no - we can't say that! Marvel might be listening!

Jeez. Apparently Heroes has decided to take the "crap, we can't think of anything else. Let's steal from X-Men!" route. Let's put Angela Petrelli in a wheelchair and start giving out tights!

Why am I still watching this show?!

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Sunday, November 30th, 2008
9:20 pm - Registry and other stuff

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

So, people have asked, and yes we do have a registry for the baby on Amazon.com - just search for either Patrick or Jamie Allison.

Also, we're trying to collect everyone's contact information so 1) we can, y'know, stay in contact with people, and 2) send out baby announcements and stuff. So please send an email to p and j at pandj.org with address/phone number.

(Especially if you're one of the people we haven't talked to in a long while - like John & Andrea, Rhiannon, and bunches of other people. I mention those two because I know they're both on LJ off the top of my head.)

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Saturday, November 29th, 2008
1:06 pm - The downward spiral of Heroes

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

I kinda liked the first season of Heroes. I don't watch a lot of TV, so a series that catches my interest is fairly rare.

Things started going downhill late in the first season, but by the second season it was just "careening off a cliff." I don't remember where I heard Maya and Alejandro referred to as "The Wonder Twins," but it's appropriate - and they were just as freaking annoying.

What really ticked me off last night, though, was a reference to a "total annular eclipse." Are you kidding me? If you don't know what an annular eclipse is, how do you look it up, and then be so dumb as to think that you can use "total" in front of it? Of course, the science was always terrible, so it's not that big a surprise.

Then, of course, when the eclipse occurs, they have the characters outside and staring directly up at the eclipse. At that point, I just shook my head in disbelief. Solar eclipses happen at least twice a year for the planet. They happen less frequently for each individual location, obviously - but it's still really rare for an eclipse to never happen when you're in school. Which means everyone on that staff should've known that you don't look up at the sun during an eclipse. (They also had the same eclipse happen in New York, Kansas, and Haiti - but that's a level of intelligence the writers clearly didn't have.) Seriously, who doesn't know that you don't stare at the sun during a solar eclipse?

Expecting decent science writing shouldn't be that much of a pipe dream. The sitcom "Big Bang Theory", which, admittedly, I've never seen, employs one of the professors in the project I work on as a scientific adviser.

Granted, I'm not even getting into the fact that the plot is getting mind-numbingly predictable and the characters don't even remotely have any consistent personalities anymore. The worst part is that I'm still forcing myself to suffer through it for some unknown masochistic reason.

Edit: If there was any doubt that the creators of Heroes aren't that bright, I give you this:

We'll answer this question in two parts:
1. You're overthinking.
And B. We think about the science - a lot.

Yes, that's right. He said "1, and B." Come on.

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Sunday, November 16th, 2008
2:54 pm - Adventures in weird coffee

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

Surprisingly, banana/pineapple coffee is drinkable.

Note that I did not say "great," or anything, but it is drinkable. A large portion of this might be the fact that the only place I've ever seen it is at the Dole plantation, sold as Waialua Coffee, and Waialua Coffee is grown right down the road from there - in other words, it's probably starting out as very good coffee.

Other information we gained when Katie came to visit: Don Quijote, a Japanese "Super Walmart," is pretty cool. More mochi than man could ever want. Natto-flavored chips (no one was willing to try, mind you). The funky Japanese lightly-carbonated drinks with glass beads as seals. And happily for me, mabo tofu at less than $4.

The penguin-warrior they use as a logo disturbs me, as does the happy-rainbow world that looks like something straight out of Katamari that's on their front page.

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Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
7:04 pm - Wow

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

My daughter will be born in the same building as the 44th President of the United States.

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Thursday, October 30th, 2008
4:43 pm - pandj.org
Screw spammers. I mean, I hope they die. Violently.

The spam module broke on pandj.org for about two or three days before I realized that leaving it off was deadly-bad. Of course, I didn't realize that the biggest problem was that the ridiculous amounts of spam was bloating several of the previous pages to huge size (hundreds of kilobytes), which in a matter of days completely zipped through all of the bandwidth for the month. Bastards.

Things should be okay in a day or so, I think.

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Monday, October 27th, 2008
8:10 pm - Video from the Penn State game

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

I was going to hold off mentioning this because I'm going to get a DVD of the game to Anna (and anyone else who missed it - though I still need your address), but I figured I should link to it sooner.

This is from before and after the game, which was really cool of ESPN. On a similar note, there was also a pretty cool story on ESDBS about Joe Paterno as well.

The second read is really interesting - the first statement is "Joe Paterno is dying in front of our eyes", and Jamie's initial reaction was "why do they have to say that?" and then I think she realized: because it's true. And in some ways, it's foolish to ignore it, or feel sad about it. People die - their lives end. It's simply true. It's far more important to recognize what someone is doing, and how they are choosing to spend the remainder of their lives, and appreciate that, than it is to bury your head in the sand and pretend it isn't happening.

It's also interesting to me because, quite simply, I don't really plan on retiring. I love what I do. If I didn't, I would do something else. I do what I do because I think I can contribute something, not because they pay me money. That's just a nice benefit. I think it might be a bit inherited - I think it's a teacher's mentality more than anything else, and it's a similar thing here. Paterno's said "I'll keep coaching so long as I feel I've got something to contribute," and I salute him for that.

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Saturday, October 25th, 2008
5:14 pm - What a game!

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

WE ARE!

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1:29 pm - Politics, politics, please go away

Originally published at www.pandj.org - having nothing to do with worldwide DJs. You can comment here or there.

I'm glad I live in a pointless state for this election, but unsurprisingly, the politics coverage is still absolutely grating. Seriously, it's scary to hear what some people think.

Jamie played a story today of some Republican young woman who's head of a "national prayer group for the Republican party." I'm sorry. That scares me. A lot. You don't pray for a political party to win. You don't. Democracy is not about winning or losing.! Democracy is about the will of the people being represented in the leadership.

If a Democrat gets elected, and you think that's wrong, do you know what to do? Move - because the reason the Democrat got elected is because most of the states in the country wanted him to be President. You don't 'pray' for that to happen. You can pray for people to see that your candidate is better, but honestly, praying so that people will see that your new way of taxing people is better than their new way of taxing people is, uh, just a little bit stupid. I can think of just a few better things to spend your time doing.

Similarly, I've been looking at a few websites that try to analyze the race statistically, and one of them suggested that since the national race is pretty close to done (and it pretty much is, if you look at the polling - it's ridiculously unlikely that Obama won't win), you should put your money to certain "key" races in the country, because it'll "do the most good" there. Sounds reasonable - well, it might, if it wasn't wrong.

You know what? You don't have a right to influence an election in an area you don't live in. You don't. It's their right to decide. If they elect a Republican, or a Democrat, that's their choice. You don't live there. You don't know their concerns. You don't get a say in their government.

Democracy isn't about winning or losing, and I think that's getting lost today.

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