Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Small internet world

On my much-neglected university (student) webpage, I have a side page listing three people I've lost touch with: an old roommate/co-worker at a movie theater; a co-worker at Hip Products; and a guy from college who helped me choose my first electric guitar (he was in a band; made sure I didn't buy a dud).

One of the movie theatre co-workers -- circa 1990 -- Googled the old roommate/theatre co-worker, and e-mailed to say "hi!" Pretty nifty. :)

It's a small internet world after all...!


Friday, July 29, 2005

Doggie present

So last night, Ralphie brought in some feces from outside, and spread the shards all over our bedroom floor -- including under the bed. Little bits everywhere...

I'm sure it was well-intentioned, but his "present" was the dickens to clean up. And it really stunk up the bedroom.

As a gentleman, I cleaned it up: my sense of smell is duller than The Lady's.

Two lessons learned:

(1) The outside of a dog smells better than the inside of a dog.

(2) The most sentimental of gifts are not always the ones you make yourself.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

LP-ROM: an impractical open-source project suggestion

I thought of this in the car, on the way to work this morning. Partly inspired by picking up a copy of the UK magazine Linux Format (a well-composed Linux and open source-friendly magazine appropriate for rank beginners through moderately advanced folks).

Way back in the day, Commodore 64 computers (and others) used cassette tape drives to store data. My daydreamy thought: why not develop a LP-ROM drive? It has MAJOR Geek factor, and would even have a rudimentary random-access component -- just pick up the tone arm and move it to the "track" representing the file you want.

A brief websearch for cassette tape drives (after some unfruitful leads) indicates that:

[T]he typical encoding method was simple FSK which resulted typical data rates 500 to 2000 bit/s, although some games used special faster loading routines, up to around 4000 bit/s. A rate of 2000 bit/s equates to a capacity of around 660 kilobytes per side of a 90 minute tape.

From what I remember from copying my used record store LPs to 60 minute tapes, one side of a LP (played at 33-1/3 rpm) fit on about two-thirds of a side of the tape: so, about 20 minutes per LP side. Based on the above figures of 2,000 bps, that's about 293kb per LP side; at 4,000bps, that's around 587kb per side --half a MB!!! And around a full Meg if you use both sides!

Now, I don’t know if the website's figure for cassette tape capacity reflects writing in mono or stereo. If it reflects mono, then writing in stereo would double the capacity. Alternatively, stereo capacity would allow for a simple form of error-checking – to compensate for dust and surface scratches -- with each bit on one stereo channel mirrored at a two-second delay on the other channel.

Some DJs have LP-writing equipment in their studios, and commerical record-pressing houses still exist -- so the equipment still exists. A regular phonograph player, with the line outputs jacked into your PC, would serve as the "drive."

Soooo cool!!! :)


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Comfort at work

Yeah, I'm blogging from work -- but I'm on a break! ;)

I'm wearing my comfy slippers that I keep under my desk. When I have meetings, etc., I change back into my regular shoes. Otherwise, I walk around the office in my (slightly tattered) slippers.

My brain's at work, but my feets are in the living room... :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Plz vote on Tall Guy's musing

Dunno how many of you also read Tall Guy's blog. But, if you haven't already, take a look at his recent blog entry, and lodge your opinion.



Sunday, July 24, 2005

To my faithful readers...

...all three of ya! ;)

I really enjoy it when people post comments to my blog entries.

Just for my own curiousity, could those of you who know me from the real world (so to speak...) make up some sort of semi-descriptive user name -- rather than signing your comments "Anonymous"?

Something like "Kansas ex-PLU person" or "M". Something cryptic enough that government agents can't track you down -- but descriptive enough that I'll still know who you are.

If you'd be so kind. ;)


PETA bad people?

I usually(?) don't put ''political'' things in my blog. But, as Ani DiFranco and other folks have pointed out, basically everything you do (...or neglect to do), and say (...or are afraid to say) is political.


According to -- and yes, I've checked this against, and it doesn't appear to be an urban legend -- PETA are bad people.

Apparently, PETA picks up animals from local animal shelters, promising to find good homes for them. Instead, it kills 'em and dumps them in dumpsters. And their nat'l headquarters accepts this behavior.

According to the above website, and the accompanying newspaper article:

In 2004 PETA killed 86.3 percent of the animals entrusted to its care -- a number that's rising, not falling.

Meanwhile, the SPCA in PETA's home town (Norfolk, Va.) was able to find loving homes for 73 percent of the animals put in its care.

Overlooking some possible definitional issues: PETA has a 14% placement rate, versus the SPCA's 73%??? Stink-O for PETA!

I e-mailed the above to my sister, Giovanna Greene -- who keeps up on environmental and animal-rights groups -- and she replied:

I've always thought PETA people were stupid.

They have numerous times in the past released minks and other animals being raised on fur farms, or animals being raised in laboratories. Released them to the too cold (or too hot) outdoors where they starve or freeze to the death or die of heat stroke OR, as is usually the case, survive and destroy the NATIVE animals because minks and cats (etc.) are not a naturally evolved part of the ecological food chain.

So: Misguided, and not well thought-out. Kinda stupid -- and therefore dangerous.

(Giov's comments about releasing lab animals reminded me of the opening scenes of ''28 Days Later''...)



Saturday, July 23, 2005

"No worries" -- copyrighted by Aussies?

I'm not sure how this happened, but starting three or four years ago, I noticed Yanks (at least, in the Seattle area), saying ''No worries'' -- meaning ''Don't worry about it'' or ''No prob.''

I was reminded of this when The Lady was watching a CSI re-run (the original CSI series, thank you!), and Warrick said this to one of his co-workers. How is it that Americans have pinched (or appropriated) this saying? Was it in some t.v. series -- some movie?

I think the main problem I have with it is the pronounciation: It's supposed to be ''No wurrahs'' -- and end with ''...mate!'' Hearing ''No whirries'' just grates on the ol' eardrums.

The Lady says I'm turning into an old curmudgeon. She's probably right. ;)


P.S. That said, I think ''True blue'' and ''Fair dinkum'' aren't said enough here in Aussie-land; not anymore, anyhow.

(Translation: ''Straight up!'' [for you Paula Abdul fans]; an expression emphasizing the veracity, legitimacy, or authenticity of the accompanying statement.)

Maybe their use should be exported and internationalized?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Good movie title or album name

Today, received a departmental e-mail with the subject line: "Friday Afternoon Pizza."

This would be a good album title, or a good name for a movie. (And a passable band name; but I've heard better.)

This made me realize that most potential album names on my list -- yeah, I keep a list -- would also make good movie titles.

The reverse, of course, has been done. The band They Might Be Giants, which -- IIRC -- took their name from some 1950s cheesy "giant monsters invade from space" movie. Although I can't find the relevant movie title on, so maybe I'm mis-remembering.

Anyhow, a good movie title, dot-com?


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Spinal Tap guy = my boss

One of my supervisors at my new job -- just realized this two days ago! -- talks exactly like Nigel Tufnel [see top right photo], from the movie Spinal Tap. He says more intellegent things, of course; but his cadence and tone of voice are both totally Nigel. And his Aussie accent is somewhat like Nigel's working-class English accent.

Someday I'll have him say "Well, it's one louder -- iin't it?"


Monday, July 18, 2005

Aussie-ism: “Ta” (also: Y’all come down!)

One of the Aussie-isms (but it’s also British) that I’m still not used to is saying “Ta” for “Thanks.” Whenever someone says “Ta” to me, my first reaction is to wonder why they're saying "bye" -- they're telling me to go away. (“Tah-tah!”)

I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually - - although I have lived here for almost two years (come September). And it still throws me.

Speaking of my living here: I need to populate my life with more people from my previous existence. To that end, I strongly encourage Old Roommate, as well as M and Captain Linux/Linux King to move here to Brisbane. As well as several other people, who ought to know who they are (e.g. Guitar Cousin). Basically, any friends from the U.S.

Tara and Kevin, too: They seem like nice folks; after all, they read my blog, and provide intellegent comments. ;)

Warning: When any of you **do** move here, don’t bring anything with bark on it: the customs folks hate that. And they’ll want to look at all your rocks, to make sure there’s no dirt. Oh: And they’ll impound and burn your brooms - - even your little whisk brooms. And then charge you for it.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Two good Aussie-isms

These may also be British, not just Aussie-isms; not sure.

For the following "mad" means "crazy," not "angry."

(1) "barking mad"

(2) "mad as cut snakes"

For example, Queenslanders are mad as cut snakes. Supposedly.

Feel free to pepper these throughout your conversation and e-mails.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Job: nice compliments

Blogging from work -- but on my lunch break.

The report I prepared for a client -- the one where I came in on the middle of it, and had to meet with everyone to figure out what was going on -- got sent out at the end of the business day yesterday.

Today I've received compliments from three different people (supervisors) to say "good job" on the report, "very good," etc.

My first report! Yay!

Of course, on reading through it I found a typo on the very first page... ;)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dumbed-down PCs

I resent "dumbing-down."

At work today, my computer locked up during the startup process -- just had the "Win XP" logo on the screen, plus the "progress bar" -- but stuck.

Tried hitting the power button on the front of the machine, but that had no impact. No on/off switch on the back, next to the power cord; no "reset" button anywhere: I guess we're not supposed to know how to use that stuff...

Finally had to have a co-worker crawl under the desk as I jiggled the power cable from above, to figure out which power cord went to my PC (as opposed to my co-worker's PC); he unplugged my PC at the power strip, waited thirty seconds, and plugged it back in. Doing it the hard way -- but it worked.

All for the want of a "reset" button... ;)

For that matter: Brought in my headphones, so I could play CDs on the built-in DVD/CD-ROM drive. Tried the headphone jack on the front of the DVD drive. Nothing.

So, used the headphone jack on the front of the computer, next to the "microphone in" jack and two USB ports. Volume blasting!

Knew there was a "mixing board" application, where you can adjust the volume for the soundcard, internal speaker, etc. -- but had to hunt for it (used to Win98, not XP). Finally found it under "system 32"; it's called "sndvol32.exe", FYI.

And then, all was well. I much prefer working to music.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Naming public buildings

When I win the lottery
gonna donate half my money to the city
So they have to name a street or a school or a park after me
(from the Camper Van Beethoven Song, "When I Win the Lottery")

At all the universities I've attended, buildings are named for famous -- often, dead -- people (mostly male?). Particularly as of late, the names don't reflect the person's worthiness or relevance to the university -- rather, they reflect large monetary donations from the person, and/or their family.

Since I noticed this pattern -- I think around 1990, but maybe 1996-ish -- I've decided that if I ever came into an obnoxiously large sum of money, I'd donate it to a university -- for "name changin' reasons." Or -- more realistically -- when I become comfortably middle-class and am able to afford funding some sort of small scholarship, I'd donate the money to a university or a university department, or a high school.

BUT -- not to name it after me. No, no -- there's no fun in THAT...

No, I'd require that the building be named "The Flaming Squirrel" building -- and that a mural depicting a proudly burning squirrel be clearly displayed somewhere within the entryway. Or that the scholarship be called "The Unbearable Lightness of Beans" fellowship, and that part of the criteria would be that the recipient write a haiku about beans, to be presented at the awards ceremony. Something like that.

And, they they don't like them rules -- well, fine! They just don't get the money! ;)

There's a few buildings on campus here -- including the one I work in -- that are just called "Building #6." Hmm.... ;)


New job: still exciting!

Today, I get to attend a meeting downtown! With one of the co-directors of the research center I work at! And we even get to take a taxi!

Dressed up with a suit jacket and a tie (Scottish tartan of my family name). Grey slacks, with a crease down the front. And matching socks! (Not to my outfit; to each other.)

Almost wore a 1940s(?) tie with a scene of wild ducks rising up from a marsh -- and little teeny tiny hunters in a rowboat in the background, shooting at them. The 1940s look would have gone well with my grey slacks, etc. -- but wasn't sure how the clients we're meeting with would take to a hunting scene. Plus, I was cold this morning, so also wore a grey sweater-vest: wouldn't have been able to see the scene.

A LOT of co-workers commented on how sharp I look today. Which is a complement -- but maybe also a comment on how daggy I usually look. (Daggy = Aussie slang for sloppy, slightly desreputable-looking.)


Monday, July 11, 2005

Cultural differences: Sunday funnies

I don't remember if I blogged about this before, but...

I miss sitting down on a Sunday afternoon and reading the Sunday funnies. In Seattle, the Seattle Times and the Seattle P.I. produce a joint Sunday issue -- so the comics section is HUGE!!! Two full sheets of paper -- EIGHT pages of funnies!!!

Here, it's (IIRC) a single half-sheet -- front and back. And the funnies (IMO) aren't as funny. So, we don't even bother.

Ah well.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Cultural difference: dress shirt composition

After living here for -- what, two years? -- I discovered yet another cultural difference between Australia and the U.S.

Although the dress code is pretty flexible at my new job, I thought I'd dress up a bit, so I went out on Saturday to look for some dress shirts. Generally, I prefer 100% cotton; otherwise, I sweat like a monkey.

So, looked at Target and at Big W. (1) Couldn't seem to find any 100% cotton; maybe cotton is more expensive here? (2) In the States, they label dress shirts by the percentage [e.g. "60% cotton, 40% polyester"]; here, they just do it by the order [first-listed is the larger proportion]. So, "cotton/polyester" is mostly cotton, whereas "polyester/cotton" is mostly polyester. ("Cotton/polyester" is referred to as "cotton-rich.")

So: considering I prefer to know what the specific proportion of my shirts are cotton (60-40? 80-20? 90-10?), and also prefer 100% cotton -- looks like I might end up picking up men's dress shirts during my annual visits to Seattle.

OTOH, picked up a sea-green polyester-cotton dress shirt for ten bucks -- with a free necktie!!! ;)


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Uber-nerd keyboard

Easy way to increase your GeekPoint(tm) rating! A PC keyboard at that has no markings! 'Cause, you know -- having the characters included is for wimps!

Supposedly, using this keyboard is supposed to increase your typing speed -- because you can't "cheat" and peek at the keys to verify, as you touch-type. Dunno.


Obit: Father of hybrid automobiles

Victor Wouk, guy who's viewed by many as the father of hybrid autos.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Bad lady = no-show

Well, I showed up for the court date -- but the defendant didn't! Possibly because it was her first offense, or maybe because she had two children, but she had been assessed as a "low flight-risk" and released without bail.

But, this is the second court date she's missed -- even though the (pubic aid) defense attorney wrote her a few weeks ago, and left reminder messages on her answering machine almost every day this week. So, now she's officially violated a court order, so the magistrate issued an arrest for her warrant. Not sure whether they'll make her post bail (which she probably can't afford!) for the next go-around, or whether they'll just arrest her and hold her in custody (and who knows what'll happen to her two kids). Either way, she's just making it harder for herself: as a first offense, if she'd have played nice she probably would've got off with a suspended sentence, or maybe some community service. But now she has the inital burglary (reduced to "trafficking in/posession of stolen goods"), and the FTA (failure to appear). Smooth.

The public defense attorney said that most of her clients are like that: they lead really disorganized lives. They tend to miss court appearances. Except for the ones in custody: they show up!

On my way out, they asked me to fill out an expense form. I could've claimed for lost wages, but I figured that wasn't quite right: I was already planning on just making up the hours on Monday (since I only work four days a week). But I did claim for mileage! Woo-hoo!!!


Testify!!! Can I get a witness??!!

Although I'm scheduled to work Tuesday thru Friday, I'm not going in to work today. (I'll make the time up Monday.) Instead, I get to go to the local courthouse to testify against one of the people that burglarized our house (and stole my twelve or so guitars -- of which I only got two back).

Mostly, it's just to attest that, yeah, the recovered property was mine.

I expect it'll go something like this:

Lawyer: And how do you know the recovered guitars were yours?

Me: Because I only buy unusual, non-standard guitars -- and then I often customize them. And that one, in particular -- notice how some sillyboy cut the sides off, moved the pickups around, poured molten lead into one corner, and painted the whole thing green? That was me.

Lawyer: And these recovered CDs -- how do you know those are yours?

Me: Well, most of them have my name written inside the jacket -- except for a few where they tried to scribble out the name, but you can still read it. And the rest -- where they tore off the inner page of the jacket, or just ditched the whole liner notes? They're of obscure Seattle-area bands. How else did a collection of those end up here in Brisbane, Australia, except through me?

Lawyer: Nothing further, Your Honor!

Something like that.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Whazzat? Sounds like a weiner???

Today, a co-worker overheard me saying "Sounds like a weiner!" (rather than "winner") when talking to The Lady on the phone.

Asked me if that was an Americanism. I had to say, no, just something my family does...


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Brief note: Chinese pronounciation

A short FYI.

I tend to write "Kung Fu" as "Gung Fu," because it's closer to the correct pronounciation.

The "K" is actually supposed to be pronounced as a hard "G." For that matter, the "u" is more of a "oh" sound -- like "whoa dude!!!"

If it was supposed to be pronounced with a "K" sound, it'd be written "K'ung Fu." Or, so I've heard.

And now, ya know! :)


Addendum: My styles of martial arts

Briefly, as per requested off-blog, my experience w/ styles of martial arts.

Please note that I don't claim any martial arts competence: Most of these I've only done for an academic quarter (or semester). Just like taking one semester of French, one of Italian, one of Japanese -- I'm hardly "conversational." And I'm grossly out of whatever "practice" I once was in.

Chinese styles:

Shoalin five-animals (Tiger, Crane, Mantis, Snake, Dragon) (about 3/4 of a year)

Hun-Gar Gung Fu (a Tiger-Crane style) (about two years, maybe three)

Mantis (one month)

Japanese styles:

Aikido (throws via joint locks) (about a year)

Judo (throws via leg sweeps and hip throws) (one academic quarter)

Karate (I forget the style) (one academic quarter)

Korean styles:

Tae Kwon Do (one summer)

Observed a session of

Misc. Aikido

Some Gung Fu style (focuses on twirling out of the way of attackers)




European Fencing

In general, I like the Chinese styles better: the movements are more fluid and less "blocky" or mechanical-looking than that Korean or Japanese styles -- at least in terms of the punchy-kicky styles. Also, Chinese styles tend to be practiced with shoes on, whereas Jp. and Korean styles are barefoot; seems more applicable to have yer shoes on. But I really enjoyed Aikido; I just wish I could find a good, yet local, teacher of it.

Someday I'd like to try Hapkido (does joint locks and throws like Aikido, but also punches and kicks); Kali/Arnis/Escrima (Fillipino stick fighting; as seen in "The Bourne Identity"); Capoeira (Brazillian; done to music, lots of kicks and acrobatics; many think it's the origin of breakdancing); Savate (French kickboxing, plus cane/stick work); Ju Jitsu (joint locks, with some punches and kicks); Ba Gua (circular Gung Fu style, as seen in Jet Li's "The One" movie); Jeet Kune Do (the "Bruce Lee" style); and Wing Chun (from which Bruce Lee derived Jeet Kune Do).


First day at work: more

Conclusion to my first day at my new job:

Went back upstairs at 8:30am. A handful of people were there; filled out paperwork.

Met with the main manager guy. His philosophy for research assistants is to give everyone three projects: a short-term, "personally owned" project that's over pretty quickly; a larger, group project; and a grant application. That way, the R.A. gains experience with all stages of the process. Seems like a good mentoring strategy to me. :)

My short-term "my project" is a survey examining "family-friendly" workplace policies. The larger project (or rather, one nearing completion) is an public relations survey for a large corporation (i.e. asking the locals how they feel about the factory). No grants, as of yet.

Also, when things settle down a bit here, I'll probably be handed three or four data sets and asked to see if I can find possible research papers embedded within. Neat-o!!!

As I mentioned, I'm officially four days a week. Specifically, 8 hrs./day, including clocking out for the 45 minutes of lunch.

Met with the co-director, who said that if I want five days I week, there's enough work to go around. I said that long-term, I'm interested; short-term, I want to use the extra day per week to finish off my Dissertation revisions. He agreed that that would be strategic.

Ran around meeting with people re: the background to the "family friendly" survey: 1pm meeting w/ the co-director; 1:30pm, meeting with another. And today, a 9am meeting with one person, 10am with another. Plus, introduce myself to one more person, and set up a meeting with her.

So, already in the thick of things... :)

Was in a remarkably good mood all yesterday, including the evening. I guess I must enjoy being part of a larger thing, something bigger than myself. Makes me feel important, usefu. (And something that's not my dissertation!!!) ;)


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

New job!!!

The first day of work is always exciting! On-campus social research center. Stopped by last week to sign paperwork (if any, etc.), as well as to let them know what days I'm working (four out of five days). Turns out paperwork is supposed to be done the first day of work (makes sense; on the clock...); arranged for Mondays off.

Showed up today at 8am, as that's when I was told that "some people" start. All the lights are off, and NO-one around! Wandered around a bit, then went downstairs to check e-mail at the student computer lab. Will check upstairs in a few minutes.

All bright and shiny and on time, and no-one to impress. Sadness...