Saturday, January 14, 2017

No 0067 - Chow Patent 2 - Vacuum

-Guest post by Sarah

OK, Patrick didn't invent THE vacuum. But he invents vacuums.

According to Patrick, it was pretty random that he first applied to work at iRobot. He liked robots and thought the company was cool. In retrospect, Patrick and iRobot are an absolutely perfect fit. And it's not just because Patrick loves the passionate culture, has totally taken on the extracurricular training and mentoring, and would rather be at work than anywhere else (case in point, we spent our 5-year anniversary going into the office no less than three times so he could check on some parts he was printing). 

But more importantly, and despite his objections to the contrary, Patrick is obsessed with vacuums. And he's quite the connoisseur. Our new house no longer has a central vac, but we do have 1 upright vacuum, 1 shop vac, 1 dust buster, 1 tiny crumb vacuum3 Roombas1 Scooba2 Braavas, and 1 set of tiny vacuum attachments. Even more impressive--or disturbing--Patrick actively uses all of them. 

Anywhere any other person might use any other cleaning tool, Patrick will use a vacuum. Need to clear the kitchen table? Vacuum. Bug in the house? Vacuum. Burnt bits on the bottom of a hot oven? Vacuum. Need to teach your kid to crawl? Vacuum. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

No 0066 - Chow Patent 1 - Everclose Freezer

-Guest post by Sarah

This blog is intended for Patrick's invention ideas, most of which are somewhat unrealistic, quite futuristic, or downright ridiculous. But some of his inventions are not only good ideas, but they've become functioning realities in the Chow household. For that reason I'd like to introduce the Chow Patent Award, to bestowed upon Chow-original inventive solutions to life's little problems.

Chow Patent 1 is awarded for the Everclose Freezer.

Anyone who's visited our home in the last two years knows we have a recurring problem with our otherwise perfectly functioning refrigerator/freezer unit: the freezer door has a tendency to stay ajar.

It took Patrick very little time to diagnose the problem. When a hungry user closes the refrigerator door, the force of the closing bounces the freezer door open. And it just hangs open. It's not open wide enough that you can see from looking across the room, but without a seal the ice cream melts, the outside of the fridge becomes freezing cold, and frost forms all over the inside of the freezer.

Patrick's first attempted solution was to adjust the adjustable door hinge. No good.

His next attempted solution was to load the fridge and freezer doors differently so they weren't at such great risk of flying open. No good.

His next attempted solution was to fix the user error causing the problem ("Just close it gently every time and check to be sure the freezer door is still closed"). Needless to say, no good.

His next attempted solution was to buy a new hinge for the doors and rehang them. No good.

But finally, he hit upon the ultimate, now-Chow-Patented, full functioning solution: Everclose Freezer.

Using only masking tape and fridge magnets (why else would they be called fridge magnets?) he affixed a row of magnets to the freezer seal and though these magnets are individually weak, together they have just enough magnetic power to pull the freezer door closed when it bounces open. Since installation of the Everclose Freezer solution, our freezer has been problem free.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No. 0065 - Zelda: Coin-Op in the Land of Spain

As Sarah and I are journeying through Spain. I couldn't help but wanting to retell my experience this morning in the context of Zelda. So here we go.

Link = me
Princess = Sarah

Little town of Girona in the nation of Spain

Do the laundry

iPhone that has ran out of magic (data plan)
50 pieces of Euro
Nalgene bottle of water

Plot line:
So while the Princess is off to her conference for her work, Link has been left to his own devices to get the laundry done in a strange land where his language ability is very very limited.  His ever so trusting tool of choice, the iPhone 4S, ran out of data just the day prior. As a result, his GPS and the language translator are down; both which have proven to be necessary for the survival in these strange lands. And most importantly, the location of the laundromat is also bookmarked in iMap, so the success of this mission solely relies on the revival of the iPhone.

With a backpack full of dirty laundry, Link was off to look for a grocery store to recharge the data.  It wasn't until a few turns away from the hotel that he realized he has foolishly left behind the regular paper map at the hotel so the further he goes, the more likely he was going to get lost. Nevertheless, he pressed on.  Now you would think that by 9:30am that there will be at least one or two grocery store open . . . nope, nothing.  Tobacco stores on the other hand, seems to have a pretty successful establishment here (comparable to Starbucks or McDonalds) and to my surprise, they are open.  With the little Spanish Link knows and his 5 Euros, the iPhone was back online! (Imaging the do-do-do-do-do video game charging up tune in the background).

Link sets the course and he was on his way to the laundromat.  Upon arrival, two puzzles were presented to him.  There were no detergent for sale and the washer and dryer are EXORBITANTLY expensive (7 Euros for wash and 5 Euros for dry, that's like 17 USD)!  Link has the money but definitely didn't have the change. A quick search for nearby grocery stores led him deeper into the foreign neighborhoods away from the touristy parts.  In the mean time, Link texted Princess how she feels about doing the laundry without detergent.  She said she suppose that's better than nothing.  Now Link supposes he has the green light to do the load with just water to save him the trouble of seeking out detergent in the land of "no-grocery-stores".  However, Link is kind of a germaphobe and he would like to please the Princess to the fullest so he decided to further explore this realm.  The store was eventually found and the aisle has been located.  Next challenge: what to buy.  Link was pretty sure at one point he has either holding some sort of liquid bleach or drano but once again with his broken Spanish, the storekeeper pointed him to some detergent tablets.  He handed her the 20 in hope of getting loads of change, but she refused.  With still a few Euro short, Link has no choice but to hit up another grocery store, this time he decided buy some potion (mango juice box) that he doesn't need at a corner bodega in hope for more change.  After visiting three stores, with the last store guy saying "we're not a bank, no more", Link barely has enough change.

Even though the cleanliness of the laundromat is still questionable by Link's standard, about two hours later, he was carrying victoriously a backpack full of clean and folded laundry back to the hotel.

Didn't lose any vitality from getting hit by cars or stepping on dog poo
Link may have shrunk one of Princess's shirt
Loads of XP earned . . . leveled up!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

No 0064 - Three Mothers

I think everybody needs to have at least three mothers.  Let me explain who they are and why.

Mother #1 - Birth Mother
Everybody has this one by default.  This is probably the one that knows us the best, lived with us the longest and most likely has telepathic powers that can predict our every move.  For most of us, this mother has also seen and experience us at our best and our worst.  From our naked and helpless state as a baby to adulthood; they have both physically and mentally seen it ALL.  I can't speak on all of our birth mother's behalf but I'm willing to bet that they probably couldn't have possibly loved every moment it.  Let's think of it from their point view.  Here is this child that is given to them from birth that they themselves DO NOT have a choice of choosing at all.  It is not like PE class during high school where you get to pick who you want on your team.  If your child is destined to be a jerk or a pain in the behind, you're stuck, this is IT. . . here's the child and now raise IT!  Make sure they do good in school.  Make sure they clean up after themselves.  Make sure they don't get a cold, and if they do, make sure they don't spread it.  Talk about a huge task to take on.

Why do we need mother #1?
For obvious reasons.  For creating us.  For physically providing for us.  Our current health and status that we enjoy now is largely due to their input.  We are talking about years of agony of trying to get us to eat those things that we may not have liked as a child.  But more importantly, we need mother #1 for molding us into the people we are today.  It is often time their job to teach us some of the most important life lessons that  nobody else in your life will ever teach you.  Why? Because sometimes those lessons are not very fun to teach.  Here are some examples.  "Please don't cut your hair like that because it makes you look bad!" "Please stop hanging out with those kids 'cause they are bad for you" "Please stop trying to date those type of girls because they are way too out of your league!" "You sound like a fool when you talk like that!" You know what these lessons are and you know it in your heart, deep down inside, that you are grateful for them.  And with that said, that is why I'm thankful for my mother #1.

Mother #2 - Mother-in-law
More often than not, pop culture likes to paint a picture of evilness when we are talking about mother-in-laws.  I would like to dispute that.  Actually, I can remember telling my friends in the past that I see mother-in-laws (or especially potential mother-in-laws) as someone who holds "the keys to the kingdom".  If you are in pursuit of a girl and eventually thinking about marriage, then it is absolutely crucial to gain the favors from mother #2.  You can think of it this way, when you want to marry someone, you are really asking to be a part of a new family.  Yes, your significant other knows you well, but as far as his or her family goes, you are a complete stranger.  It is a huge commitment for each family member to take you in as their in-law.  In a situation like that, you need an advocate.  Someone to convince the rest of the family that you're okay.  Kind of like a lobbyist convincing congress on legislation.  With a deal here and there and maybe some bribing, mother #2 can sell you to anyone.

Why do we need mother #2?
To be an advocate for you.  And when you do gain the access to the kingdom, they could also be your guide to that kingdom, kind of like a sherpa to the Himalayas.  "And this is why there is a giant purple hippo over the door"  Or "this is why all the kids like to play dress up and make a video of it".  On top of being a guide, they also can be a great substitute for your mother #1.  When my wife (then girl friend) got really hurt from a car accident on our Christmas vacation, she was hospitalized and my mother-in-law flew out.  Beside providing morale stability for me during this whole ordeal, she also brought Christmas with her.  She brought us back to normalcy, or at least as much normalcy as you can in intensive care.  She made the situation less dire and was instrumental in my wife's healing process.  And with that said, that is why I'm thankful for my mother #2.

Mother #3 - Wife
I can't agree more with the saying "you'll have a happy life when you have a happy wife".  She is the key and source of happiness to the rest of your life.  Besides taking on all the responsibilities of being a mother #1 to all the little minions that you helped create, she has to withstand all of your shenanigans as a husband as well.  The wife is a lot like a Swiss army knife that is capable to handle all situations and challenges thrown at her.  She is the doctor.  She is the taxi driver.  She is the cook.  She is the health inspector.  She is the psychologist.  She is the CFO.  She is the cheerleader.  She is the teacher.  She is the designer.  The list goes on and on.  My everyday life consists of two phases, go to work, and then come home and work on the house.  Here is what Sarah's day is like.  Wake up, prepare our lunches for the day, go to a full time job, grocery, come home and cook, hears me yap and complaint, does the dishes, then work on the house and then wait for me to go to bed.  It is not like I've forgotten how to cook or do grocery and stuff but she is just so efficient at it.  I tried to take those tasks from her sometimes but that would end up either with me accidentally shrinking her shirts or adding too much salt on something.

Why do we need mother #3?
Brian Regan once joked about the "essential kit" that airline gives out when they have lost your baggage.  "Here is your box of life essential . . . food, shelter and love (I guess I over packed)".  Mother #3 is that essential kit!  I've been married to Sarah for a little more than a year now and I honestly couldn't remember how I have made it through the single years all by myself.  What was I eating?  What color were my furniture?  Did I have curtains?  Though we may not have any kids yet, she is already showing signs of a good mother.  One time we babysat this toddler that was about 3 years old.  I love playing with the kid . . . until we had to change his diaper.  I was not thrill about it but I though I should learn sometimes.  I held my breath like I was going on a deep sea dive until I couldn't do it any more.  My wife was looking over my shoulder like a master cook over a sous chief.  When I ran out of breath, she console me "it's okay" and took over.   She wrapped it up just like that and gave me all the credit.  Talk about an amazing woman and all the life essential that I would ever need for the rest of my life!  And with that said, that is why I'm grateful for my mother #3 (to-be).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

No. 0063 - Occupy Death Star

The eggshell has never been thinner for the government to walk on than ever. It seems like no matter what they do these day, someone or something or some group or some entity from all walks of life WILL be offended. Well embrace yourselves reader because I'm about to vent.

Why do I feel like I'm the only one who is paying taxes these days? Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the government requires me to pay more just to compensate for other people who doesn't? (Actually wait a minute, doesn't health care works the same way too? I think I'm onto something here!).

But wait, there's more. Last night I learned from NPR about who is going to pay for this two month payroll taxcut. At first I was going expecting them to say the "top 1%", you know, the evil empire ran by Darth Vader himself. And guess what, nope. Not Darth Vader, but the mortgage lenders. And guess who really ends up paying for it? Yep, the ones taking out the mortgage or refinancing (aka people like me). Here is the scenario NPR posed, a $200,000 home on a 30 year fixed rate of 4.25% will be effectively be paying an extra .1%, that equates to about $4000 (and that only pays for the next two months of payroll taxcut).

THAT'S IT! No more of this! We need to have a rebellion. Fuel up the Millennial Falcon because we are going to the Death Star. We will dock all of our spaceships on their docks, that will show them. We will harass all of the storm troopers. "Hey there, you know I have siblings too, but guess what, they don't look like me 'cause I'm NOT CLONED". Where's Luke? Where's the Princess? Where's Hans Solo? Someone should bring Jabba the Hutt too because I think this type of movement should fit pretty well with people (or aliens) like them. Now this is truly what I call the 99% (that's 99% of all living, breathing, crawling, sliming, tenacle-ly things). I can see how these movements are going to play out already. It will take us 6 rounds to successful overthrow the government (and then we'll go back digitally remaster the first three afterwards). Watch out Darth Vader, Palpatine and the rest of Galactic Senate, you may find your Death Star occupied real soon!

No. 0062 - Recessionopoly

Editorial Note: So I've outsourced my blogging to an unpaid (but highly valued) employee, Sarah Chow aka my wife. Please note that the first-person mentioned has been tainted with the writer's perspective.

I am a big fan of Monopoly. I've already developed two Monopoly inventions on this blog: Invention No. 0043: Monopoly Extended Play and Invention No. 0019: "Communist: The Game. So my natural instinct when I woke up on my own at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning was to play Monopoly on my iPod. And my wife's natural reaction when she woke up to me playing Monopoly at that hour was to tell me 1) go back to sleep and 2) that game doesn't make any sense in today's economy anyway.

Actually, Monopoly is a perfect game for today's economic climate, given that it was first invented in the Great Depression. But I have to agree that some of the details for how to get rich in the game aren't necessarily relevant to the Great Recession. Which is why I'm proposing a few modifications to update Monopoly for today.

Recession Monopoly starts with everyone having property, with each property square having 3 mortgaged houses on it. The goal of the game? Have no mortgages. The first person to either pay off or discard all their homes wins. When you land on someone's property, you have to take their mortgage. And if you land on your own property, you have to take out a second mortgage.

In Recession Monopoly, borrowing money is easy and spending it is encouraged. Things will be a little more interesting with the Chance and Community Chest cards, too. They'll include cards such as "CEO parachute: collect 50% of all other player's cash and spend half a turn in jail"; "Invent an Apple iProduct: collect $500 from other players"; "Discover your investments are in European bonds: pay $750 to the bank"; "Sue for miscellaneous damages: collect $500 from the bank"; etc. And in addition to losing to the ordinary tax cards (which already go straight to the bank and not into the schools and roads they claim to), you can cash in big with a government bailout card (applicable only to the player already in the lead).

Would a game this painful be successful? It shouldn't be, but do the right thing for the economy: increase your consumer spending and buy it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

No. 0061 - Wife-Fi

Last week at the mall we walked past the Apple store and saw a line with about a hundred people in it. I thought, "did Apple decide to open up a club in the middle of the mall? ... oh wait, they are all Apple geeks waiting to buy the new iPhone."

Don't get me wrong: I think the iPhone 4 is a pretty awesome device. I mean, who doesn't want constant web access, GPS support and Facebook stalking at a push of an app. But who needs an iPhone when you have Wife-Fi!?

My wife and I recently have been house hunting. I had yesterday off from work so I decided to drive around to check out some of these places that our realtor sent us. Here I am at the first house as I'm peeking in through the windows like a burglar to see what's inside. Lo and behold, there is a SKELETON hanging in the middle of the garage. Then my logically brain kicks in and thought "I wonder if this place has central AC? ... TO THE WIFE-FI!" Speed dial the wife at work and BINGO - MLS listing. After a short discussion of my assessment of the property with my wife, then on to the next place. I ended the call saying "oh yeah, by the way there is a skeleton hanging in the middle of a dusty garage."

Now when you have a GPS that has been out of date for the last 2 years like mine, you would find Wife-Fi very useful too. Considering the next place that I was going to check out is a spanking new home, the street was probably paved yesterday. So I speed dial the wife again, and BLAMO! ... turn by turn directions to my next destination. Can you just feel the sheer awesomeness of this invention yet?! I mean, does your GPS or iPhone say "I love you!" or "see you at dinner!" every time you turn it off? (Oh and let's not also forget the live traffic report update feature as well. "How's the I90 doing? Are the Bruins or Red Sox playing tonight AGAIN! because that usually means gridlock" Very cool feature.)

When you think about it, Wife-Fi really is a simple invention. All you need is a phone and a wife. It is safe to use because you don't have to push any buttons while driving or look into any screens at all. Just a simple speed dial and you're there; instant spousal IT support. I love my Wife(-Fi)!