Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

A little bit of a worry

The boys had a birthday party after school today, a local trampoline-jumping place.  It's a clever idea, to have a warehouse-style building with a zillion trampolines embedded in the floor:  the kids enjoy it, and the place seems to have full bookings.


I noticed the below sign for a reserved parking slot near their side door:

In case you can't read it, it says "AMBULANCE PARKING ONLY".

That they need to reserve a parking spot for ambulances is a bit of a worry.


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Monday, May 11, 2015

A total fabrication

About three weeks ago I was carrying a somewhat heavy load in the back of my Land Rover; the load shifted; and the bracket that holds the retractable "privacy screen" over the cargo bay broke off.

My experience with car parts -- especially the parts made of plastic -- is that they charge a lot more than what the part is worth (a molded piece of plastic??!!).  I'm guessing that a replacement for this part would've cost me AU$50-$100.  Not worth it.

But, I do like having the screen over the cargo bay.

So, I decided to fabricate a replacement.  I got into woodworking in the first place for pragmatic reasons:  custom-making shelves and such for my recording gear that fit very specific space requirements (basically, in my bedroom in a shared two bedroom apartment).  So this is just a continuation of that.

In this first shot you can see the broken-out bottom of the original bracket.  There's not supposed to be the large holes on the bottom:  it's supposed to have just a small screw hole -- but that section was torn out.

The piece of wood is an offcut from my next door neighbor's deck, which they built about seven years ago.

Here's another shot, where you can see that the scrap of wood is a pretty good size:  not too much waste.

And, the thickness is already pretty close to what I'll need.

Normally I'd show a few of the steps in the construction -- but this time, I couldn't be bothered.

The final product is the result of work spread across two weekends:  a little per day, over three days.

Except for a using a power drill to drill the holes, I used only traditional woodworking hand tools:  no electricity.


-a marking gauge and a bevel guage for the layout, plus a homemade marking knife for the actual marking;

-two chisels (and a paternal grandfather wooden mallet) for the stopped dado, followed by a router plane to make the depth consistent;

-a backsaw (and a bench hook) for cutting off the excess;

-and a rasp and a file for the final shaping.  Plus some sandpaper.

Front view.  You can see how the holes in the bottom are supposed to look.

Top view.  I used a router plane to make the depth of the stopped dado the same as the depth of the original item's slot.

Back view.  I made a mistake partway through, and scribed lines on the back (Dangit!).  But I decided that I'd invested enough time that it wasn't worth scrapping my progress and going back to the beginning.  I did sand it back a little -- but I didn't want to reduce the thickness too much.  The way I've left it is a good compromise.

Then I gave it a coat of Danish oil/tung oil -- which was my paternal grandfather's preferred woodworking finish.

I could've spent 40% more time, to make it 5% better -- but given its purpose (it's in the back of a car -- not in a living room), I didn't think the cost-to-benefit ratio was worth it.  Plus, I have a fairly large backlog of partially-finished projects (and yardwork):  I don't have time to muck around like that; I need to maximize my rate of completion.

A completed project is a good project.  I have far too many projects that are nearly finished -- and are therefore un-useable.

If I truly felt strongly enough about it, I could come back to it, remove it from the car, and make it 5% better.  But, I won't.   :)


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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Nearly a Mother's Day song

Well -- I was going record a Mother's Day song that The Girl wrote, and that I arranged -- and e-mail the recording to my Mom for Mother's Day.


Originally it was supposed to be a skit that we'd shoot video footage of, and then edit.  At least, that was the plan Saturday night (Australia is 3/4 of a day ahead of the U.S.).

But the morning of Mother's Day (i.e. Sunday, this morning), The Girl decided she'd rather write a song.  Ah.

This was pretty much the first time I'd tried to multitrack record anything since moving to Australia in the early 2000s.  So, it took a little time to cobble together a working signal chain of gear.

And then I had to work out a bassline.  And although I've been practicing more guitar over the last month then previously, I'm not as facile(?) as I once was.  So even once I worked out the bassline, I had a hard time switching between the parts (verse; chorus; bridge; interlude; ending) without screwing up.

Plus, technical difficulties:  getting the software to work the way I wanted it to.

Finally, about 7pm tonight, I called it:  not gonna happen.  Especially since the kids hadn't recorded their parts, it was bedtime for them, and I didn't want to stay up crazy late on a work night.

So, I e-mailed my mom a Happy Mother's Day, anyhow -- and told her that I'd **tried** to record a song.  And she was pleased that we'd thought of her.



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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Female garb

My daughter is in early middle school.  Today we were going out to run some errands, and she was wearing an outfit with a skirt and knee-high boots -- but with only a little bit of a heel.

I gave her some advice, as her father:  "I don't want you wearing anything you can't fight in."

By that I mean:  no super-high heels.  No constrictive dresses or skirts.

Guys' clothing tends to be fairly neutral:  flat, comfortable shoes; some variety of pants.  Whereas female clothing -- especially as they get older -- can let "fashion" override practicality.

I should probably add "...or run in."  But "fight in" is more empowering.

As I've probably mentioned, she and one of her brothers take Tae Kwon Do once a week.  When she turns sixteen, she's going to take a term of Krav Maga with me.  The boys, too, when they're of age.

Taking Krav Maga is like taking an "un- first aid" course:  it teaches you how to not get hurt.


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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Replacing the tape

I enjoy having available the tools and resources I need; and I hate being unprepared.  Thus, I tend to have an "every-day carry" attitude:  there's a list of things that I **always** have with me.

There are websites that explore this issue, such as this one where people can submit their own EDC kit.  Not surprisingly, a lot of Americans include firearms in their kit.

I basically have two layers of everyday carry:  on my person, and in my work bag. 

My "on my person" kit is basically what's in my pockets and on my belt:  basically a pocket knife, two (small) multitools, a harmonica (of course!), my wallet, a small mirror, a small tape measure, two pens, two guitar picks, and some other things (it's a rather long list).  Oh:  and a hankie.

In my work bag I have "something to read" (typically 2-3 magazines), a flannel shirt (in case I get cold), a floppy hat (in case it's sunny -- or cold), sunscreen, bug repellent, some pens, some bits and pieces of a self-assembled first aid kit, and some other things (again, the list continues).

Well, yesterday (Tuesday), while rushing to catch the train home, after work, I passed a homeless guy who was shuffling along, with the sole of his shoe  flapping with each step:  it was only held on by the glue under the toe-end of his shoe.

I considered stopping and giving him the roll of medical tape from my bag -- but I didn't want to miss my train.  So I kept going.

But, as I kept going, I realized how bad I would feel if I **didn't** stop and help.  So I stopped at the intersection, and rummaged through my bag as I let the crosswalk light turn from "Walk" to "Don't Walk".

And just as he reached the corner, I found it.  I handed him the roll of medical tape, explained that it was for wrapping his shoe so it wouldn't fall apart, and then as I signal turned back to "Walk" I dashed across the street.

And I managed to catch my train.  So, all good.

But!  Now my "kit" was missing tape.  So today (Weds), I went to the cheapy store and picked up an eight-pack of electrical tape.  Four of the rolls went into my "work bag", and the other four will go into my toolbox of electronics supplies.

Electrical tape isn't the same as medical tape, I realize:  but all I really need it for is for short-term binding.  And the price is right:  medical tape is oddly overpriced in Australia (and maybe in the U.S.) -- given what it is.

I considered getting duct tape -- but the rolls are too thick to fit comfortably in my work bag, and I wasn't sure how to cut it into a thinner roll.  So I went with electrical tape.


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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Mixed metaphor

This morning I noticed a guy wearing a Chicago Bulls baseball cap.  I'm not into sports -- but isn't the Bears the Chicago baseball team?

So, putting a football team on a baseball cap -- that seems... incorrect.


(May 8, 2015 -- UPDATE -- Perhaps my intended point was that somehow baseball caps have become universal enough to be divorced from the sport that spawned them.  To use the teams that I actually am familiar with:  having a "fan" baseball jersey that says "Mariners", or a "fake" football jersey that says "Seahawks", or a basketball jersey that says "Supersonics" makes sense.  But a basketball jersey that says "Mariners" would be weird.

But a baseball hat that says "Supersonics" would be accepted.  And no one notices the disjuncture.)


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Basement rocker

As most office workers do, I keep a cheap electric guitar, a small practice amp, and a small toolbox with guitar gear, under my desk at work.

I occasionally -- by which I mean "once, since bringing it to work six months ago" -- go down the the lowest parking garage level under my building at work and play my guitar.  There's a concrete pillar that has a power outlet -- so I can plug in my amp.  Next to the pillar is a space between some bike racks which is protected by railings -- so I can set up and be safe from getting squished by cars. 

I point my amplifier away from me, to maximize the amount of natural reverb compared to the direct sound -- and I noodle away during my lunch break.

So, I did this once, about a week after first bringing my gear in to work (the first week of November, 2014).  (Holy carp -- it's April 2015!  How'd that happen?)  And for the last month I've been meaning to play "basement guitar" again.

Well, today's workday was making me feel a little futile -- so I went "eh", and went down during my lunch break. 

I enjoyed it.  And I amused the security staff.  :)

In related news, I'm playing guitar more often than I have in a loooong while:  about once a week, maybe a little more.  I've been inspired by a co-worker who is playing nearly every night.  I figure:  I enjoy it; I should do it more often.

I'm being fairly non-instrumental (pun not intended) in my playing:  I'm not recording, or trying to come up with song ideas.  I'm just noodling around with different scales, expressing myself, and enjoying the experience.  And in the process, presumably getting better at playing the guitar.

Finally, a comment about the guitar (pictured) -- which is the guitar I have under my desk at work.  It's kind of quirky -- but, I like quirky.  I picked it up for AU$59 (about US$43), because (as you can see in the photo, before I repaired it) two of the grommets on the tuning pegs were missing:  I repaired this by fabricating wooden "sleeves" to take up the space.  Also, the tip of the pickup selector switch is missing, and the volume and tone knobs are different styles of knob.

But, again -- I like quirky guitars.  :)


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