Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Color of Seattle photographs

As I'd mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I'm slowly going through some snapshots of my (paternal) grandparents' house, and saving them as my PC desktops.

This photo is of my grandparents' back yard.  My grandfather built the chicken coop -- a long, long time ago.

This photo looks very "Pacific Northwest" to me:  the moss on the roof, the evergreen tree in the background -- and especially the lighting.  You can just... tell.

British murder mysteries often have the same kind of lighting.  Nice.  I've been told that I'd probably enjoy England, or Ireland.

Not sure what I'm doing in sunny, glare-y Brisbane, in Australia (some parts of Australia are overcast -- like Tasmania).  Besides, I mean, following my wife here.  :)


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Resolving to play music more often

I really enjoy playing musical instruments -- but I never get around to it. 

Which is stupid, because once I start -- I really enjoy it:  it's just a matter of starting.

Last night I was doing some of my weightlifting, and during my three-minute rest breaks, I did some simple practice things on my cheap, secondhand trumpet. 

And I realized that -- hey -- if I actually practiced even 5-10 minutes a day, I might actually become... adequate.

So:  I'm going to try to play some sort of musical instrument at least a few minutes a day.  Possibly focusing on the same instrument -- but, if the mood pulls me differently, that's fine as well.

We'll see how long this lasts.  :)



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Balalaika shredding

Found this by accident.  I like it.

It's even more impressive when you realize that, not only does a balalaika only have two strings -- as opposed to a guitar's six -- but that two of the balalaika strings are tuned to the same note.

So he really only has the two lower strings to use for his super-fast runs.


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Friday, August 28, 2015

Simple yet catchy

Found this guy by accident.

I like it:  simple, yet catchy.

A strong counter-argument for people who don't think they can make music because they lack fancy equipment.



Monday, August 24, 2015

My grandfather the haxxor

I have about twenty snapshots of the interior of my late (paternal) grandfather's house in folder -- and every two weeks I save a new one as my desktop wallpaper.

Yesterday, I installed a photo of his living room -- and realized that he was a hacker.

A "hacker" is someone who's not afraid to modify something, or figure out an innovative solution, in order to serve a pragmatic end.  So being a hacker isn't necessarily destructive; nor does it necessarily have to involve I.T.

In the above photo -- my dad was partway through methodically clearing out the house contents, after my grandfather went into assisted living -- there are a few hacks.  You may have to click the photo to enlarge it.

I'm pretty sure my grandfather made the bookcase next to his brown chair.  The green binder would tend to fall off the end shelf -- so, my grandfather installed a vertical piece of wood as a partial "cap" or bookend, to support the binders and notebooks.

You can also see the extension shelf, of a lighter color wood, which he installed so that he could keep the phone there, plus other items.

And, under the brown recliner, you can see the riser that he installed, so that it was easier for him to get up out of the chair.

For what it's worth:  he also built the small table in front of the brown recliner, which he also sometimes used as a footstool; the picture frames for the two photos; and the lamp behind his chair.  In fact, he built the house -- with the help of his father and his father-in-law.

There are also a few secret hiding places, scattered around the house.  I have a hunch that he took various people into his confidence about them -- such that no single person knows of all of the hiding places.  That's pretty cool.

Anyhow:  my grandfather, the hacker.

I do that, too.


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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bone guitar

While running some errands today, I came across a garage sale.

As usual, I asked if they had any music gear that they hadn't actually put out for sale, but would consider selling.  Turns out the guy had an electric guitar that he'd found during one of the "Place your large items on the sidewalk, and the garbage collectors will fetch it" weeks.

He sold it to me for five bucks.  Usually, at a garage sale, I'd negotiate down.  But, heck:  five bucks.

Here's the guitar.  It's a nice "bone" color.  It's what I refer to as a "fake Strat", with single-coil pickups in the neck and middle positions, and a humbucker at the bridge.

I tested the electronics by plugging it in to an amp, and holding a tuning fork next to the pickups, after removing the terribly rusty strings.  It passes a signal, and all three pickups work, as well as the pickup selector switch.  I can't tell what the actual guitar tone would be like:  I'll find out once I re-string it.

The volume knob doesn't adjust the volume:  it's permanently "on" (which is better than "off" -- because at least it generates sound!).  The tone knob for the neck pickup works -- but the tone knob for the middle pickup doesn't seem to.

But, hey:  five bucks.

Here's the headstock:  It's a Hondo H77.  I haven't yet done the research to see if that's a good model, or what.

Here's a closer look at the body.  Note all that "character"!  But I kinda like it.  I wouldn't ever artificially "distress" a guitar -- but if it already comes a little dinged-up, I'm OK with that.  A beautiful, unblemished guitar would actually make me nervous about putting the first scratch on it.

I found it interesting that there are two grounding wires to the bridge assembly.  At first I thought that this was a sign of quality -- but then when trying to remove the old strings I discovered that I couldn't, because of the copper wire across the string holes.  So it must be something a previous owner did, rather than something from the factory.

When I'm ready to finish changing the strings, I'll have to pry that grounding wire off to the side. 

Curiously, the strap button on the tail of the guitar was strongly recessed into the body.  This means that you couldn't mount a guitar strap on it.

I removed the strap button, and discovered that there was a recessed, painted plug down the hole.  The plug is painted the same as the body.  I don't know how this would've happened, or if it was intentional (and if so, why?).  Weird.

I needed a broad washer with a small hole, to keep the strap button from falling back into the recess when I re-installed it.  I didn't have a washer of the right size, so I did a "field repair" of flattening a bottle cap to a Cooper's brand non-alcoholic fake beer.

Using a bottle cap also served the purpose of personalizing the guitar.  I like to put a sticker or some other minor alteration on a guitar, just to personalize it -- but with this one, I didn't want to cover the paint color (which I like!) or change the visual balance of the headstock.  So adding the splash of red had both a functional and an aesthetic function.

The wooden fingerboard was looking rather dried out.  Note in particular the end to the left, in this photo.  (To see it better, you may have to click the photo to enlarge it.)

And here's the fingerboard with some rubbed-in "tool handle mix" of boiled linseed oil, diluted with alcohol.

So, yeah:  five bucks.  I'm pleased.  :)

Some other day I'll finish removing the strings; put new strings on; and intonate it.

And much later, I'll get around to correcting the electronics.   Or, just leaving it as ideosyncratic:  with only one knob (the bridge-pickup tone) that actually works.  Being quirky is more interesting -- and in this case, will take far less effort.  ;)



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Random acts

I like practical jokes -- but only the surreal, positive, uplifting kind.

Our local DVD rental place disappeared a few years ago.  But about a month ago we started using the self-serve machine in front of the local grocery store.

Last week I was returning a DVD (Project Almanac; I liked it), when -- on a whim -- I slipped in a $5 bill and a note saying "Congratulations!  You're (apparently) a winner!!!"

And on Friday at work, whenever I rode the elevators I'd leave a coin on the floor -- just for the next person to find.

So:  it amuses me -- but it makes people happy, rather than sad.


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