Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Electric guitar is like woodworking

Last night I played the electric guitar for the first time in maybe a month.  As always, once I started it was hard to stop -- except for (like always) I started somewhat late at night -- so I had to stop so I could go to bed (had to get up for work the next day).

I noodled around for a bit, but after a few minutes I ended up playing a chord sequence that I'm going to try to turn into a song:  it had good energy, and I could "hear" the drum beat that will accompany it.

As I was playing, I had the same emotion that I do when I'm doing woodworking.  And the process is the same:  whether I writing a song, then recording and mixing it, or sketching out some plans, then preparing the materials and assembling it -- it's still "making 'something' out of 'nothing'."

Love it.  If I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd spend about 80% of my time doing woodworking and doing music -- drifting back and forth depending on my mood that day, but also what I was in the middle of (e.g. if I was partway through recording a song, I'd probably do music that day).


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Monday, December 04, 2017

In defense of quirky hobbies and activities

Let's see if I can say this clearly and elegantly (note:  It ended up taking three edits):

I'm generally -- I hope -- a fairly even-tempered person.  But one of my (very few?) hot-buttons is people who react to someone's hobby or endeavor with "He/she must have a lot of time on his/her hands".

Note that this phrase is rarely used if it is obvious that (1) the output is being used to earn money (e.g. carving figurines for sale; sewing costumes for sale), or is done for instrumental purposes (e.g. building shelves for the storage room; making a table for the dining room).

Apparently, if the activity or endeavor is done to earn money, or to save money (i.e. "instead of buying it; cheaper to do it yourself; would cost too much to have someone do it properly, so you just do it yourself"), it's acceptable.

Here's why the "must have a lot of time on his/her hands" comment frosts my preserves:

-It's dismissive.  It strongly implies that the pursuit or activity has no value or merit, and the only thing lower than this pursuit or activity is sitting around, being bored.

-It demonstrates that the speaker has no passion, creativity, or thirst for knowledge.  (That is:  if pursuit or activity involves making a profit, well okay, it "makes sense".)

This rant was triggered by a dismissive (or, poorly-implemented attempt at humor) comment in response to my sending group e-mail about my spending a few evenings deciphering a wall hanging at work  that was written in Braille (over-simplified; close enough; blog entry here).

So:  this is in support of people who, for example

-Research local history
-Build things out of wood
-Make video shorts
-Build ships in bottles
-Engage in cosplay
-Play role-playing board games
-Take martial arts classes
-Practice hurdling
-Learn a foreign language, even if there's no immediate plan to travel there
-Write or record a song, or an album, or a book, or screenplay, with no hope of it being published
-Study a jungle tribe
-Examine subatomic particles
-Test the learning capacity of protozoa
-And etcetera

This "only because they have too much time" attitude negates the creative arts, modern implementations of traditional crafts, the sciences, and nearly all academic pursuits:  people who  do things, not because they can earn money, but because it is interesting (to them).

These people are engaging in these behaviors because (presumably) they are interesting and fulfilling to these people -- not because these people are "bored", "at loose ends" and "don't have anything else to do".

Because you know what bored people do?  They watch t.v.  Maybe read a magazine or newspaper. Maybe take a nap.

People may take up "hobby X" out of boredom:  but they either discover they enjoy it -- or they quit. 

Just because you aren't interested in a behavior -- and perhaps it would bore you -- does not mean that another person is doing it solely as an alternative to boredom.

To dismiss someone else's passions and interests as simply "a way to use up time" is somewhere amongst the realm of "close-minded" and "rude".

Ornamentation and creative expression are good things -- and I pity the people whose sensibilities are so austere that they go beyond "indifference" to actually being dismissive of these endeavors.  May they live in beige-colored dwellings with bare, bare walls.


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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Braille translation

Last week I was at a five-day training session at a local university.  During a break, I noticed that the fabric wall hangings in the hall were actually Braille writing -- although just printed dots, not tactile.  And, it turns out that most of the wall hangings were upside-down!!!

I took a snapshot, and over the next few evenings I translated them.

There were some peculiar errors:  the Braille characters were corrupted in the middle of most of the rows of text, and it appeared to use quote marks to indicate the end of sentences, instead of the Braille character for a period.

Anyhow, I persevered, and managed to come up with the following: 

///the best voice possibx I try to speak in the best voice///

///achieve posshumoousjle, as if I were to achieve possh///

///ould be copied and d - ,  fame and my tapes would be copied///

///th I world  "  when if distributed around the world  "  when  if///

///o the previous year th ,  inish listening to the previous year///

///ed minute break bef - j  "  hs tape , I take a ten minute break bef///

///material i will lis  -  ???  ore recording the material I will lis///

///uring those ten min  ??? ten to next year  "   during those ten mi///

///n the past nor in  th ???  utes i am neither in the past nor in th///

///in a narrow gap , whi ??? future  "  I am stuck in a narrow gap , wh///

///l the present "  osawabch some people call the present " osa///

///ce every day and lis -  ???  record my own voice every day and li///

///year later  "  I  ((capitalization character)) ??? veb ?? sten to it exactly a year later " I ((capitalization character)) ??? ve//

///??? leven years "  I spe ??? ??? ??? en do ??? ng this for ??? leven years " I sp///

///nly recording eve - ??? nt the first year only recording eve///

///w cassette tape andiry day I bought a new cassette tape an///

///n I wrote the date on l  ??? spoke into it  ?  "  then I wrote the date o///

///since the beginni  -  a the  tape ((capitalization character)) ???  s label  "  since the beginn//

///r , I have been list -  ???  ng of the second year ,  I have been lis///

///ng  "  every night bef  ???  bening a reording "  every night bef///

///the tape for that d  -  iore bed  ,   I take out the tape for that d///

///rst listen to it sc  -  ???  ky of the year  "  I first listen to it sc///

///recorded a year ago k  .  urrent , which was recorded a year ag///

///en I record my curre ??? a on the  same day  "  then I record my curr///

///me to live a life pa ???  ???  shelf  "   this allows me to live a life p///

///year ago  "  the only  ??  larallel to my life a year ago "  the onl///

///arybi  "  I only list  -  e exception is february bi  "  I only lis///

///yers  "  I keep it se - c  ??? en to it every four ye[space]rs  "  I keep it se///

///er cfe tapes and the parate from  the other cfe tapes and t///

///four times longer  "  ek a recording time is four times longer///

///recordings vary , j ??? m the co ??? dtteyts of my recordings vary  ,///

///e write in journals  ???  ust like what people write in journal///

///are self conscious  p  ,  vary  "  some people are self consciou///

///eir journals  "  I am  s  -   a  when they write their journals  "  I am///

///n I record me voice  ???  ???  elf conscious when I record me voice///

///e best voice possibx I try to speak in the best voice possi///

The "garbage" in the middle seemed to indicate where the phrase started and ended, so I re-wrote the above phrases in a more organized manner.  I then found what seemed to be the start of the narrative, so I moved that to the beginning.

Here is the result:

[I] record my own voice every day and li-
sten to it exactly a year later.  I've
been doing this for eleven years.  I sp[e]-
nt the first year only recording.  Eve-
ry day I bought a new cassette tape and I
spoke into it.   Then I wrote the date o[n]
the tape's label.   Since the beginn-
ng of the second year, I have been lis-
[t]ening [to?] a re[c]ording.  Every night bef-
ore bed, I take out the tape for that d-
ay of the year.  I first listen to it c-
urrent, which was recorded a year ag[o]
on the same day.  Then I record my curr[ent].
This allows me to live a life p-
arallel to my life a year  ago.   The onl-
y exception is February 29 ["b i" and "2 9" are the same pairs of characters].  I only lis-
ten to it every four years.  I keep it se-
parate from the other tapes and t-
ake a recording.  Time is four time longer.

The con[ten?]ts of my recordings vary, j-
ust like what people write in journal[s].

Some people are self consciou-
s when they write their journals.  I am
[s]elf conscious when I record me (sic) voice.

I try to speak in the best voice possible,
as if I were to achieve posthumous
fame and my tapes would be copied
when if distributed around the world.

[I] finish listenting to the previous year-
's tape, I take a ten minute break bef-
ore recording the material I will list-
ten to next year.  During those ten min-
utes I am neither in the past nor in the
future.  I am stuck in a narrow gap, wh[i]-
ch some people call the present.

I wondered whether this was a well-known quote, was created specifically for this work of art (the fabric panels, displayed as wall hangings), or whether these were the reflections of an actual person.

This is apparently "The Braille Project" (  an artistic endeavor which was released first in Japan (November 2007), then Europe (September 2008). 

Okay:  curiosity satisfied!  :)


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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Third floor men's room

Yeah -- this one probably seems a little random...

One of my peculiar hobbies is happening across small spaces (e.g. elevators, bathrooms in restaurants), and thinking, "Hm! You could totally remodel this into a perfectly usable micro-studio apartment..."

I found this one earlier this week, in the third floor of a government building where I'm helping out on a special project for a week or two:  it's the men's restroom.

As indicated by the paper towel that I put on the floor, each tile is 30cm by 30cm. I'll transfer the measurements to graph paper, and do some sketching.


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Monday, October 30, 2017

Under my brain

Fifteen minutes ago I sat down at my computer to do a tedious task.  In that situation, I often call up some sort of music video playlist on YouTube, for musical accompaniment.

For some reason, I typed in "The Stems".  The first hit was the song "At First Sight" -- which I immediately recognized as a (very good) song off the Young Einstein movie soundtrack, which features only '80s-ish Australian bands.

Funny that that band popped out of my brain.  I really like the song -- but I never got around to listening to the rest of their stuff.

Subconsciousness.  :)

A link to the song's lyrics.

Music video:

(The soundtrack CD has better fidelity.)



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Minimalist drum kits

(This blog entry is a thematic extension on my January blog entry about "Suitcase drum kits".) 

I was Googling "minimalist drum kits", and discovered (or rather, re-discovered) the notion of "cocktail kits":  usually used in Latin music and maybe jazz -- but you can use 'em for whatever.

Here's a video of a guy making good use of an ultra-minimalist kit:  kick, snare, high-hat and a ride-crash:

I also found this article about "shrinking drum kits" interesting.


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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book review of drumming book

I moderately recommend the book Born to Drum, by Tony Barrell.

It's interspersed with loads of interviews and quotes from drummers: most I'd heard of; some I had not.

It has a chapter on "women who drum", and the discrimination they face -- which is what lead me to pick up the book in the first place.

The rest of the book is "pretty good" if you're into drumming; probably not of interest if you're not: the writing style is mostly engaging -- but not enough to bring you along if you're not into drumming in the first place.

The theme for the book is that most chapters examine a stereotype of drummers (e.g. "Adrenaline junkies", "Not very smart", "Have lots of tattoos") -- and then gathers a lot of anecdotal evidence based on interviews with drummers. And then each chapter concludes with "Well, there's a lot of support for that -- but with a lot of notable exceptions."

Some swearing and sexual references. 

Again:  likely of interest to drummers; of moderate probable interest to other musicians; probably not interested to the general public.