Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yet another university dream

This is yet another "I'm failing classes in college" dream.  It probably won't be of interest to anyone -- even my kids.

As usual, these tend to symbolize my feeling "behind" in things I have to do.


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Technically this morning, since it probably happened after midnight.  Plus, part of it would have been after I woke up due to everyone else being awake, but then my rolling over and going back to sleep.  (I'm on vacation right now -- so, particular time that I have to get out of bed; YESSS...!!!)

Dreamed that I was an undergraduate Sociology major at U.W.  I'd done really well for my first two years, but then -- and as a continuation of a dream I'd had somewhat recently -- I'd completely bombed my classes for the remaining terms, even though I had limited myself to just one course per term:  I just couldn't complete the readings and the work on time, nor manage to make it to lectures.  All of this was mentally referenced in my dream, but was the backstory, rather than part of the actual dream.

I was at my old bedroom in my parents' house in [hometown], sketching out my "To Do" list, such as "Get a part-time job", "Meet with an advisor" to figure out how to salvage my academic record (since I now had a recent series of "fails"), "Find the lecture and tutorial locations", and "Work out the bus route to and from U.W." (since I wasn't running a car, in order to save money).  I had a small desk under the window (where Dad's desk currently is, in real life) -- but I had a bed (I think) where [brother]'s and my bunk bed traditionally sat.

The class was a large lecture class, and seemed to be co-taught by three or four professors (which is unusual).  I didn't recognize any of the names of the professors, but thought that maybe I'd know my tutor (teaching assistant).  It would be a little weird, since I was a failed graduate student from U.W.'s Sociology department.  (That is:  in my dream I had failed to complete a B.A. in Sociology; but that got muddled with being a grad student in Sociology.)

One would think that getting organized would've been easy, since I only had a single course to organize around -- but I was finding it difficult -- partly because some lady (vaguely resembled someone from church) came down the hall into my room and insisted on chatting.  But even after she left, I was having a hard time working out the lecture and tutorial days and times.


After she left, I noticed that someone -- probably Dad -- had left a pile of Big W (which probably represented Costco) stationary on my desk:  about three reams of notebook paper, plus maybe five blue mousepads(!!!).  He's generous in that way.


Was planning on visiting the campus and inquiring at the bookstore, etc., for work -- but then wondered whether it made more sense to get a job on campus (where I'd have to commute to attend, if I was ever scheduled on a day where I **didn't** have classes -- or in Everett (which is where I was living, with my parents).

Then, abruptly, it was after the first day of classes.  I was in a Fremont-Greenlake-like neighborhood in Seattle -- on a flat aread that was a bit up a hill, with a view of the water -- trying to get home.  I started running on all fours (??!!) in the direction of Everett -- but I knew that it would take me forever to get home that way.


I was woken up by the light, or maybe people moving around near me.  I briefly talked to The Lady, then went back to sleep.  I was in an Aboriginal community (analagous to an Indian reservation in the U.S.), although it was more urban than what I'd expect a community to be.  I was walking around, trying to get a decent GPS signal and internet connection for my iPad (which in real life I don't own -- I just borrow The Lady's or one of the kids') to find out (1) where I was, and (2) how to get the blue buses (Community Transit, in the greater Seattle area) back home to Everett. 

I started slowly walking down a hill, which was, again, Greenwood-like, and saw a two-story older building about half a block down the street (and across the road) that housed some sort of business.  It has a car from the '70s parked in front, in mediocre condition.  Two people (a male and a female) from the building approached me, as I stood there fiddling with my iPad and the woman asked if I needed help.  I explained that I was trying to figure out how to take the blue buses back up to Everett.  The male suggested that I just ride up with him.  For some reason, I could tell that they were academics, but some sort of Art department -- like the building was some sort of off-campus art satellite.  I accepted the offer of a ride, and stated that for what it's worth, if it made them trust me more, I was a former Sociology grad student.

We walked across the street, and I went inside.  They were doing various kinds of sculpture, mostly in plastic and glass -- and I think some collage as well.

I made a few in-joked about academia as I walked through their workshop area, towards (I presume) where the guy who I'd be riding with kept his coat and bag.  And then I woke up.


-GG

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Movie review of The Wolverine

Watched the movie The Wolverine last night.  It focuses on Wolverine, of X-Men fame, spending time in Japan -- was darned good until the last 20 minutes or so.  And then it became "okay".

This review -- not that anyone reads them! -- has partial spoilers.


The movie was based on a Marvel mini-series (either four issues or six issues, I forget) from the '80s or '90s:  I have it, but I haven't read it for a decade and a half, probably longer.  On the whole it kept fairly faithful to its origins -- and in the DVD "extras", the producer (or director?) stated that he wasn't intending to do a literal rendition, but rather evoke the underlying themes.  Fair enough.  But.

From a comic book fan point of view:  the last twenty minutes screwed up The Silver Samurai.  It's supposed to be a mutant who has the ability to make a regular samurai sword glow and cut through things; instead, it was a giant suit of armor (like the "bad guy" armor in the first Iron Man movie), with special glowing sword.  Also, the character The Viper was changed from the comic books, including making her an amazing fighter to rival Yukio.  (Yukio was changed a little from the comic -- but to a forgiveable degree.)

From a movie-goer's point of view:  the old rich guy was eternally grateful for Logan (Wolverine) saving his life during World War II -- but then at the end of the movie was willing to kill him (or at least, to steal his mutant healing abilities against his will):  that was a complete change of character.  Also:  some mechanical device that was implanted on the side of Logan's heart was enough to sap his healing abilities?  The mechanics of that doesn't even make sense!  Some sort of poison, maybe; but not a mechanical "suppressor"; and, why on his heart?  Stupid.


Over all, it was a pretty decent movie -- despite the final 20 minutes.  The first three-quarters or so were solid and engaging.

Worth watching if you're at all into super heroes, or just want a decent popcorn flick.  It contains comic-book style violence (of course), and a few swears.  No obvious sex, nor any nudity (although you get to see Hugh Jackman splashing around in a Japanese bath -- but they don't "show" anything).

Borrowed the DVD from my sister-in-law; no plans to own it, or even re-watch it.  But -- again -- worth seeing once.


--GG

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Rule to my children to help people

Here's another rule for my children:  "If someone needs help, and you're able to help -- do it."

The exception is if there are insurmountable odds (e.g. trying to singlehandedly rescue someone from an angry mob), or if it would put you at extreme disadvantage (e.g. impoverishing yourself to financially support someone else).

But if it's within your means to help:  do it.


I don't usually talk about my good deeds.  But, I'm writing this for my kids, when they're old enough to look through my old blog entries.  Here's the inspiration for this blog entry:

-The Big Issue is a "street magazine", kind of, that's sold by mostly-homeless folks.  I routinely over-tip the Big Issue sellers:  the current cover price is $7; I typically give them $20 and tell them to keep the change.  It helps them, and makes them happy.  Sometimes it'll be the only sale that they made for that shift.

-Today while buying the new issue of The Big Issue from one of my regular vendors, there was a homeless guy standing next to her -- skinny and crying, clearly distraught, and with body language that made him seem like maybe he had a mental illness.  The vendor said that the guy had just been robbed, and lost all of his money and his medications.  So I dug deep into my wallet and gave him fifty bucks -- because I figured he could use it (and it might make him just a little less sad).  I also gently rested my hand on his arm, just for a moment.


I could potentially connect "helping people" to some sort of religious conviction -- but most (or all?) of the major religions have "helping people" as one of their basic rules.  But really:  it's just "what you do".


--GG

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Different radio station

I was flipping through the car radio preset stations on the way to work this morning, and happened across 98.1FM -- which as soon as I saw that frequency on the screen, I heard a radio announcer voice in my head that gently intoned "Classic KING radio, ninety-eight-point-one FM".

Except it wasn't:  because I live in Brisbane, in Queensland, in Australia -- not Seattle, in Washington state, in America.

Most of the time, it doesn't make a difference to me.  But occasionally:

I spent the first thirty years of my life in the greater Seattle area -- so I have a lot of reflexes and classical (no pun intended) conditioning are based on living in the same place for such a long period:  associations; expectations.  So "98.1 FM" is "supposed" to be a classical music station -- not a community radio station.

But, it isn't.


On a brighter note:  as I drove out of my yard this morning, I saw a cockatoo standing in my front lawn, and then fly away.  As a guy from Seattle, having cockatoos and kookaburras around just blows my mind:  I've lived here for fifteen years, and it still seems exotic to have "tropical" birds wandering about.


--GG

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Johnny Cash guitar trick

You learn all sorts of tricks, from all sorts of different sources.

Skip to 0:45:


Basically: insert a playing card under the strings below the nut. Then if you're playing barre chords, you can get a crisper "chukka-chuk" when you're doing rhythmic, percussive strums.

It makes sense in the video.


--GG

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

This is my reasoning

As I mentioned, I'm slowly, methodically going through my belonging, and divesting of things that I don't use, and which don't bring me enjoyment.


One of the items is a guitar effects pedal, which I bought three(?) years ago, and have used perhaps 5-8 times since then.  It's... fine.  But it doesn't captivate me.  It's a Korg AX1G (pictured), which is a multi-effects pedal:  all of the effects are "stacked" (i.e. for each setting, one sound feeds into another) -- whereas I've discovered that I prefer the sound of only distortion, or only chorus, or only a phaser.  So.


I mentioned the pedal to a co-worker, who expressed interest.  So I brought it in to work, and we took it downstairs to the sub-basement parking garage and he played through it.  I keep an electric guitar and a small amplifier under my desk at work -- because, doesn't everybody?

He decided that he liked it, and would buy it off me.  I told him I'd sell it for fifty bucks -- which is what I got it for (it was originally stickered at $65, I think, but I'd haggled down the price to fifty); I didn't want to make a profit off a co-worker.

I held it for him at my desk for a few days -- but then yesterday (Wednesday) he texted me from home (he works from home on Wednesdays) to say that he'd had a few unexpected bills, so he couldn't pay me for a while.  He said that if I wanted to back out of the deal and sell it to someone else, he would understand.


I pondered -- and the next day I handed the pedal to him and told him to take it home and use it, and to just pay me whenever he could.  Here's my reasoning:

-I could bring it back home; hold it at my desk; or give it to him to hold at his desk or take home.  I'd prefer to not have it at my desk or at home.

-I could continue to advertise it on Gumtree (the AU analog to Craigslist); or I could just sell it to him (on credit, I guess it is).  I trust him to pay me eventually -- and it's more about "getting it out of my house" and "finding a good home, where it will be appreciated and used" than "immediately getting fifty bucks".


And that's what it is.


 --GG

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Walco effects pedals or effects units

Sorry -- I haven't posted a blog entry for a while.  I actually have a few remedial ones that I've been planning on posting:  I just haven't had the time.  Well, first my PC died, and it took me a few weeks to get a new (used!) one and install Mint Linux on it.

Anyways...


I've been going through some of my music gear that I bought while living in Seattle -- placed in boxes prior to moving to Australia -- and literally have not been used in over a decade.  I've been putting a few things on Gumtree (the Australian analog to CraigsList) as a result.

One of the oddities that I turned up is a complete set of the eight little guitar effects units put out by Walco.  So I put them on Gumtree as a bulk set.

But then I thought that as part of my ad, I should link to some online sound samples -- maybe a YouTube video?  Oddly, I couldn't find any on YouTube.


So:  as a service to the online guitar community, I played through each of the eight effects units, and am now in the process of posting the results to YouTube.  Just search for "Walco - Effects" and they should come up.


Some thoughts on the series: 


I bought these in the late '90s as "New Old Stock", while living in Seattle. Some I took out of the packaging and had a play; others (two of them) were(!!!) still unopened in their original packaging -- until about a week ago.

That is:  until a week ago, I hadn't used them since I bought them. I've gone away from musical devices that **don't** allow A/C power and only run off of batteries -- so I'm unlikely to make use of these. So I'm putting them back in the ocean (i.e. selling them).

I'll try to make the following descriptions more or less align with their ordering in the photo (note the piano keyboard, as a scale reference [no pun intended]). I'll group my descriptions by form factor.


BOX W/ SHORT CABLE, AND CLIP TO HANG FROM GUITAR STRAP:

-BASS-TREBLE EXPANDER (blue pedal) -- A bass booster or treble booster. Has an "On/Off" slider switch, a slider switch that allows for a bass boost, or a treble boost, and a knob for the amount of boost. I accidentally found a YouTube clip here -- https://youtu.be/Zs3QcHCqVoM .  The treble booster is piercing; the bass boost is more like an octave pedal.  As you can see from the photos (below), you choose either treble or bass boost -- not both at once.

-SOUND-GO-ROUND (bright green) - Tremelo. The On/Off slider switch was broken, so I removed it and bypassed it -- so now it's always on (you could bypass it with a loop pedal). You could probably replace it with another switch -- or mod it with a footswtich-style pedal. Has a knob to control the speed.

-FUZZ TONE GENERATOR (pink) - Fuzz. An On/Off slider switch, and a knob for the amount of fuzz.


BOX WITH A INPUT JACK AND AN OUTPUT PLUG:

-AUTOMATIC LEVEL CONTROL (dark green) -- A limiter?  Had to tell, exactly. On/Off slider switch,and a knob to set the output level.

-SIGNAL BOOSTER (orange) (New In Box) -- Boost pedal, presumably --- except my version doesn't (it just chokes the sound, really). On/Off slider switch, a slider switch for the polarity of the unit (i.e. does the tip go into your instrument, or into your amp?), and a knob for the degree of boost.

-ACOUSTIC FEEDBACK ELIMINATOR (Yellow) -- It's some sort of gate -- like a noise gate... -ish.  The text on the back of the packing implies an expander noise gate -- but they don't use those words. A slider knob for On/Off, and a "Attack control" knob.  It also overdrove the input to my amp, due to all the make-up gain.  Or maybe it was internally overloading, due to low headroom or a design error in the gain-staging.  Overall, mildly peculiar.


BOX WITH SIMPLY AN OUTPUT PLUG:

-ACCU-TUNER (red) - Electronic tuning fork. Slider switch between generating an A-440Hz output tone, or an E-349.23Hz tone. No input, just the output plug.  Gives a steady tone.  If the slider switch was replaced with a better switch (a toggle switch?), you could possibly do something interesting with this -- like use it as a drone for a song in the key of E or A.


F/X PEDAL:

-"CHORD AND NOTE SUSTAINER" (brown pedal) -- From memory, like an over-exuberant compressor (see the YouTube video).  Useful for creating feedback but with the maximum volume still being mild.  No actual controls except the "On/Off" foot button.


None of them run off A/C adaptors: you have to use 9V batteries.


My web search indicates that they largely fall into the "So bad they're good" (or "So bad they're only bad?") category. Maybe for a hard core guitar effects pedal collector? Or for someone who wants trashy, low-fi sounds.



As I mentioned, I tried all of them -- including (somewhat reluctantly; but "for the good of science") taking out the two "New In Box" units.

Surprisingly, a few were actually good -- and most were... "interesting".

I wouldn't take them gigging or for live performance, because they're too unreliable (esp. the switches).  But they might have some studio/recording uses.  If you used them regularly, I'd suggest removing the slider switches and replacing them with more robust toggle switches.  And possibly getting an A/C adaptor -- although some people think that running small effects boxes off of wall current can introduce noise into the signal chain.


Here are two forums that make a brief mention of Walco effects units (I'm sure there are others):

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/walco-effects.1722379/

http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/guitar/acapella-29/1877286-


I agree with the assessment in the first link, in that the Chord and Note Sustainer is interesting and potentially usable.  The guy also like dthe Signal Booster (if he recalls correctly) -- but mine was not terribly useful (as noted in the YouTube video):  the "boost" was only up to the input level, and it added a lot of dropouts -- but not in an interesting "glitchy" way.  (Hard to explain; just see the YouTube video, once I post it.)

A second poster in the first link also says that the Sound-Go-Round sucks; I disagree.  The second poster also says the she/he got the boost, which didn't work even though it was new out of the box:  that's more similar to my own experience.

And etcetera.  Just take a look at both of those threads.   ;)


Finally:  I'm going to post some pics of all of the pedals.  Since this is somewhat for archival/public service purposes, I'm going to leave them at full (cheap cell-phone!) resolution:  so about 400kB, not 50-ish kB.


































Anyhow:  by the time you read this, these probably will be sold to the four winds.


--GG

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