Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My impractical playhouse

(note: 1 ft = 0.305m)

I’d been hoping that eventually -- like maybe five years from now -- after we were more financially grounded, we could build an outbuilding in the backyard for all my hobbies. It would be around the size of a three-car garage: it would have a large open area that would serve as both an exercise area (some weights; mats; punching bag) and a music room (a place for my drum set, amps, guitars, keyboards). The end would be walled off (to keep the dust away from the music gear) and serve as my woodshop (I primarily use hand tools, rather than large, scary, expensive power tools [e.g. table saws, bandsaws]). And one corner of the building would serve as a household storage room, lined with floor to ceiling shelves for suitcases, Christmas decorations, and the like.

Maybe half a year ago, I’d phoned around for estimates from places that manufacture steel sheds, and the prices -- if I remember correctly -- were in excess of AU$10,000. And that’s just for the basic shell: To retrofit it to make it studio-worthy (e.g. layers of drywall/sheetrock/gypboard) would push up the price beyond that.

So, when the builder stopped by last night for another round of discussions, I asked him how much -- in rough terms -- would it be to just build an outbuilding of the same solid-ness as a regular house.

For a building 8.5m x 7m [28’ x 23’], which would include the 6m x 7m [20’ x 23’] gym/music studio, the 5m x 2.5m [16’ x 8’] woodshop, and the 2.5m x 2m [8’ x 7’] storage room: A little under AU$29,000.

Yeow. O.k., how much for just the 6m x 7m [20’ x 23’] gym/music studio? I can always do my woodworking in a stand-alone 3m x 3m ][10’ x 10’] sheetmetal garden shed. Answer: Somewhat under AU$20,000.


That was sobering. Even once I get a permanent job -- and presumably, a series of raises and promotions, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to spend twenty K on a giant playhouse. I mean, if I was at sixty K that’s half a year’s wages -- pre-tax! Yeow.

Well, I guess it’s back to reality:

-Woodworking: In a sheetmetal shed for a few hundred bucks. I suppose I could line it with plywood, and maybe some insulation, to try to keep the heat down so I can actually use it in the summer. Install a DIY “infrared eye” burglar alarm to sqawk in case anyone breaks in, and keep all the good stuff locked up in cabinets.

-Music: Short-term, in the spare bedroom -- I’ll just hope I can cut down the ambient noise (e.g. traffic; household noises) enough to achieve clean recordings. If we have a second kid, I guess I’ll figure something out -- maybe another 3m x 3m [10’ x 10’] sheetmetal shed in the backyard, lined with layers of sheetrock? That’d be do-able -- it’s the size of the bedrooms in our current house. Nasty standing waves, so I’d have to deaden everything and set up some bass traps -- no “live room”-style recording. But workable.

-Working out/martial arts: Maybe one o’ them free-standing canvas-and-aluminum-pole gazebos, for around a hundred bucks? Wrap it in bugscreen to keep out the mozzies during the summer? Get a few wooden beams, hang the punching back from 'em. (BTW: People have suggested using the on-campus gym, or joining a gym. That’d be a halfway solution, but it wouldn’t quite fit my needs. I can’t hang around on campus; I need to get home. And I can’t spend fifteen minutes each way commuting to a gym during the evening. I need something that I can use at 8pm at night for a half hour or an hour, without having to spend much travel time to access.)

-Storage: I suppose just stack stuff in the spare bedroom (when the house is built). And most of our current guff will go to its proper place. (Examples: I have probably ten boxes of videotapes that really ought to be on shelves; probably ten boxes of music gear that needs to be set up, or at least accessible on shelves or in cabinets; and probably four boxes of books that should go on bookshelves [we’re currently waaaay maxed out].) I briefly thought about putting ‘em in an outdoor shed, but I don’t trust the security. So, I guess the future reality will be a bunch of individual, relatively cheap, customized sheds in the back yard.

Not as elegant -- but workable. Yeah, o.k.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Birthday cake

The Lady made a creative, well-crafted birthday cake for The Bub's birthday. Witness:

A lion -- because The Bub growls ("Grrrrr...") when she's pleased. ;)

She is now one year old!!! (The Bub, not The Lady.)


Monday, August 29, 2005

Tender submission...

The phrase "Tender Submission" -- is it:

(A) A song title by Barry White ("Mmm... c'mon baby...");

(B) An album title by a cheezy '80s adolescent-oriented Metal band, e.g. Ratt (with a bad "leather 'n' lace" cover photo); or

(C) A term used at my job when we put in a bid (or "tender") on a govt. contract.

The correct answer is "C" -- but "A" and/or "B" comes to mind whenever anyone says it.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Longevity of CD-Rs

Read an article in a computer-type magazine.

Sure, home-burned CD-Rs can last 20, 30, 40 years. But it's highly variable; may last only two years before the signal degrades. Depends on the brand name.

They did a test with a whole bunch of brands, and discovered that the "name brands" (i.e. brands you've actually heard of) worked fine -- but "no-name/generic" brands degraded, and would be unreadable after two years.

Reason: Cheap materials, sloppy tolerences. The "logo" of the off-brands soaked through into the data side, thus corrupting the data.

Implication: If you're archiving data -- like digital photos, or home movies -- pay the extra 30 cents/disk and get a name-brand CD. And it's good practice to re-burn CDs every few years, anyhow, just to "refresh" the data: read the CD to the hard drive, then burn a new CD.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Belt gear

The things I carry on my belt:

Right hip (from back to front)
-Multitool (knife, flatblade and Phillips screwdrivers, awl, pliers, file, can opener, etc.)
-inexpnsive camera (35mm film)
-Pedometer (also use as my digital watch)

Front view

Left hip (from front, to back)
-inexpensive green pocket calculator; magnifying glass
-metal harmonica (key of C)
-blue LED squeeze light; green LED squeeze light


Right front:
-Small tape measure
-Black ball-point pen
-Red ball-point pen
-Green ball-point pen

Right left:
-Small folding scissors
-Coin purse (includes guitar picks)

Right rear:
-Scraps of paper (for notes to self, jot down ideas/measurements/prices)

Left rear:
-Wallet (includes sheet of paper with typed names & phone numbers of family & friends; a Galoot PalmPilot!)

A low-tech Batman, I suppose.

(Photos courtesy of Tall Guy)


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Old shed, pt. 2

Did some measurements last night, and we think the house will actually fit behind the Old Homestead. Might look a little funny having an old tin-roofed shed in front of one end of the house. But, eh.

The original houseplans have that end as the garage; we'll use it as a home office/library (a lot of books!). If we indeed put the house behind the Old Homestead, we could plant a bit of an English garden there, in between the two buildings -- a nice place to walk around in. And we can always put some sort of latticework screen in front of the Old Homestead and the road, if we do eventually think it looks silly.


Socializing the kid

So, if I was a "normal" dad, I'd be tossin' the ol' baseball, or football, or shooting hoops with the kid.

But I'm not.

Instead, I'm gently nudging her towards the rock & roll way of life.

Showing the kid the guitar:

Dad doing the rock & roll grimace, while child is bemused:

Exploring guitar on own; note rock & roll snarl:

Or, maybe she's a drummer...

That's-a my kid!!! ;)

(Photos courtesy of Tall Guy.)


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Moving the old homestead?

There's a two-room building on our "new" property (next door to where we currently live; where we'll build our house). It's 4.3m x 7.3m, and has sentimental value to The Lady, as it's the cabin where her parents lived for the first few years of marriage, while their current home was being built across the road.

However, it's right-smack where we want to build.

Phoned a house-moving company to get a ballpark estimate on moving it about 15m back. In round terms, AU$3,000 to move it, plus around AU$200 per concrete stump to re-stump it; 15 stumps, so another AU$3,000. ("Stumps" = short pilings; these will be about 50cm tall.)

So, roughly AU$6,000, all-said. We'll see how that weighs up against sentimentality.

If we moved it, it would -- at least short-term, be a woodshop, garden tool storage, and potting shed.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Vacuuming like a dad

Vacuuming with one hand, holding a baby on my hip with the other.

I felt very -- "legit".

Felt a bit like a 1950s housewife, actually. ;)


Friday, August 19, 2005

Spiffy e-bay find!

Just rcv'd an e-bay guitar. I'd been waiting a month -- wired the payment July 21st!!! -- and the seller hadn't replied to any of my e-mailed inquiries (sent four!). So, yesterday I started procedings against the guy -- and when I got home, I had a slip in my mailbox saying I had a package at the post office.

So, there ya go.

It's a color and body style that I don't already own. Plus, it's just a touch flashy, which The Lady says suits me.

However -- it ain't green.

Still nifty, though. But I have to wait until my birthday (November) to officially take posession of it.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hey, that's nice...!

My very first project at my new job (back in early July) was to review the methodology (including the questionnaire) of a pilot study that a government agency was going to implement. It looks at the family-friendliness of workplaces. Things like:

-Do you get family days for if your kid's sick?

-Can you tweak your start and end times to conicide with picking up/dropping off the kids at school?

-Are you allowed to drop back to less than full-time, to spend more time with your family?

I was the project lead, so although I talked to a few people to get their insights, I was the one that collated their answers. Also, perhaps 80% of the suggestions for improving their questionnaire came from me.

So it was very nice to receive an e-mail from the client, forwarded by my supervisor to me and the various people I consulted with, saying that the client appreciated our insights and incorporated many of our suggested changes.

This was especially gratifying, considering that there was a good chance that they were just running it past us to fulfill official protocols, and would just ignore our suggestions.

Instead, as I looked through their response note, almost every suggestion I (personally) had proposed had an "Implemented" next to it.

Very nice. :)


Root beer in Australia

(It's o.k. -- I'm on my lunch break.)

In Australia, they have sarspirilla [misspelled!], but not root beer -- except for one $2.50/bottle brand, which doesn' t taste like real root beer. (FYI, sars is more licorice-flavored -- not root beer-y.) So, when I was last in Seattle I found some root beer flavored hard candy, and mailed it to myself in Brisbane.

Today, I finally remembered to bring it in; I gave each co-worker a piece. The general consensus is that it tasted like sars, but with a Deep Heat/heat rub taste. Which, now that I think of it, is true. Or at least, it's the best way to describe root beer flavor to someone who's never tasted it before.

But despite the menthol after-taste, I still like root beer!


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Semi-rural Australia

I'll preface this by saying that not all Australia is rural, or even semi-rural.

That said: My co-worker was just talking to our supervisor, and mentioned they have a dead horse in their driveway. Again.

She was asking our supervisor if he knew what city service you call to remove a dead horse.

(4:16pm, update -- Overheard, telephone conversation; not funny, but I snorted anyhow)

"Hi! I'm calling about the removal of a dead horse..."

"No, no -- we don't own it -- it's a neighbor's horse..."

"I'm not really sure what she'd want done with it. I mean, I'm not sure what the options are, besides taking it away..."


Monday, August 15, 2005

Pleasant anniversary

The Lady and I had a pleasant anniversary. Left The Bub with Mum & Dad (The Lady's parents), then went out for some Turkish food (a somewhat arbitrary choice: near the movie theatre, and the manager came out and invited us in).

Then saw the "Fantastic Four" movie. Not bad, but lacked the pizzaz of the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Daredevil movies (haven't seen the recent "Batman" movie, so can't comment). Partly, the plot was fairly formulaic -- you could predict every major turning point. And the fight scenes were nothing special. Just somehow lacked the depth or dimension that the other ones had.

But, I'm pleased that Jessica Alba ("Dark Angle") is finding work.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Star Trek cell phones?

Rcv'd the following e-mail notice from a friend:

Title: Gallery of Star Trek business cardsLink:
Xeni Jardin:This most excellent collection of Star Trek business cards includes Spock, Kirk,and other universally familiar names -- but I was delighted to find lessfrequently seen characters like Harold Mudd, too. "Mudd's Women" is one of myall-time favorite episodes.
The calling card for Kang, Klingon High Commander, reads, "WARS ARRANGED /PLANETS CONQUERED / NO WAR TOO SMALL."

Which reminded me: Why have they not yet come out with a Classic Star Trek cell phone, shaped like a flip-open "communicator"? I'd buy one!!!

Maybe it's hung up in licensing negotiations with Paramount. Dunno. But it seems like a good moneymaker: tech geeks and Star Trek fans seems like a strong crossover market.


This weekend: a MOVIE!!!

So, this weekend is my wedding anniversary! The Lady and I are going to go catch a movie!!! We both like movies, but we haven't been to any since The Bub was born. (The Lady's mom watches The Bub 4-5 days a week, and we hate to ask any additional of her...

"How long's it been since you've last gone out to a movie?"

"Well, the kid's nearly a year old..." ;)

We both like romantic comedies, but there's nothing much on in that vein that looks appealing. So possibly either the Batman prequel, or the Fantastic Four movie.

The Willy Wonka remake doesn't come out until September 1st (in Australia!); otherwise, we'd probably go see that. My Dad e-mailed me from the U.S. a few weeks ago, to say it's good.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Net GeekPoints (tm) = zero

So, I don't work on Mondays. Because of this, my desk is unoccupied on Mondays.

And maybe because I have a lamp on my desk, my co-worker -- who, as I mentioned, is the current Miss Queensland ["Miss Queensland? I never left!!!"] -- had a newsletter photo shoot at my desk, as hers didn't have the "right look" (or so the photographer said). Posed her sitting at my desk, typing away on my computer, looking personal-assistant-y.

So, I come back to work Tuesday, and try to start up my computer -- and it won't boot up! Hit the reset button; nuthin'. Even crawled under the desk and turned off the power at the power source; nothin'. The lights on the front indicate that the hard drive runs, but then nothing -- the screen stays blank. I know there's power going to it, 'cause the "power" light is on. Checked the cable connections; yeah, they're good.

So, I phone the I.T. people, and they send someone up. Know what it is? The power button -- on the underside of the flatscreen monitor -- had been pushed off. Ah.

Apparently, when the monitor is plugged in, the "power" button is always on -- but it's purple when the power's off, blue when it's switched on. Oh-kaaaay. I never turn off the monitor on these (partly 'cause I didn't know there was a power button -- it's on the underside. But my co-worker did.

Sorry: I'm used to CRT monitors, where the power button indicates whether the MONITOR is on -- not whether it's plugged in to the wall.

So, minus two GeekPoints.

But then, last night I dreamed -- for maybe five minutes -- about using a Mac OS X operating system, and comparing it to a Linux desktop. Based on a magazine article I'd read in a Linux magazine before going to bed, about the Mac Mini and the pros and cons of OS X relative to the typical Linux way.

So, plus two Geekpoints.

A net change of zero.


Monday, August 08, 2005

A dog and his girl

Inspired by Tall Guy, I'll also start posting the occasional photo.

Here's one of The Bub, with Ralphie underneath. Shot w/ a regular old camera; pleased it turned out o.k., as it took me a month or two to get around to developing it.

I'm amused by how she's looking down at him. But maybe it doesn't translate; maybe you had to be there. :)


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bonus "printscreen" tip

Some of you may already know how to do a basic "printscreen" in Windows: to copy the entire screen to the clipboard, hit the printscreen button (top row, near F12 button). Then paste into a MS Word document, etc., to see it. Handy.

Here's a bonus one -- and generally, more useful: to get JUST THE SELECTED WINDOW, hit alt-Printscreen. Then paste the contents to view.

Maybe jot it down on a sticky-note, and post it by your PC?

Printscreen = whole screen
Alt-Printscreen = active window

Update: Aug 8, 2005 -- bonus screenshots

This first one is with the "traditional" printscreen option:

Note the views of the desktop, the taskbar, and all the other windows. (Yeah, I could maximize the window; I'd still have the taskbar though.)

In contrast, this pic is just the window:

Ah, yes! Much clearer. If I was trying to show someone what was going on, this one makes more sense.

Also, I discovered you can paste the captured image directly into a paint program.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Wear your seatbelt!!!

I was going to do a big long missive on why it's good to wear your seatbelt. But now I can't be bothered.

Let's just say that, yeah, there's the occassional instance where the driver's side gets crushed in or some-such, and wasn't it lucky that the driver got tossed into the back seat instead. But in general, you **don't** want to go shooting out the front window and slam into a tree.

Two choices: If you're going from 45mph down to zero mph, would you rather do it with (1) just your street clothes as padding, or (2) strapped into a protective steel shell, which absorbs the impact?

BTW -- avoid driving with your windows more than halfway down. TG and I both used to subscribe to an amp amputee e-mail list, and a good chunk of them lost their arms by getting their arms crushed and/or torn off in a car accident: either the arm got flung out the window as the car flipped over and over; or the car flipped onto its side, skidding, and ground the arm against the asphalt.

Yeh -- much better to let the glass window get all scratched up, instead.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Aussie culture

So, at work today, we were talking about Aussie and slang; this was started by my saying "Bye bye!" to a guy on the phone, and him getting a bit flustered over how to reply (I don't think my "bye bye" was bloke-y enough for him.

So, I mentioned a friend -- M, from Seattle -- who says "Cheerio!" when she leaves -- to which I reply "Wheaties!" None of my co-workers understood (1) Why I would say "Wheaties", and (2) Even when I explained that it was a cold cereal, why I would invoke the name of a cold cereal in response to "Cheerio!"

It finally dawned on me that in Aussie-land, "cheerios" are little cocktail weenies; they don't have that brand of cereal. A brief Google search for sample images of Cheerios and Wheaties (to show my co-workers) revealed to me that both are from General Mills (as opposed to Kellogs, etc.) -- which, come to think of it, I haven't seen around here!

Ah -- those subtle cultural differences!

Also interesting: That I chose "Wheaties" as a archtypical "cereal name" in response to "Cheerios" -- and both are from General Mills. Spooky...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Visiting hot vs. cold climate

I'm not into "hot," but I'll take it over "cold" any day! At least at the extremes: Like, Alaska or Antarctica, versus the jungle or the desert.

Reasoning: If you get lost in the desert, you can last almost a week. If you get lost in Antarctica -- especially if you get wet -- you're dead within a few hours. (See Jack London's "To Build a Fire.")

Although, hot places do have more poisonous critters than freezy places.


Famous co-worker!

After doing a minor web search this morning, I discovered that a co-worker was successful in her bid for Miss World Australia/Queensland! She was away from work Monday thru Weds. First tier is QLD; winners from the state level vie for Miss Australia; the Australian winner competes for Miss World.

This should be a good resume builder, as she wants to be an actor. If it worked for Julia Roberts (Sandra Bullock? One o' them...), maybe it'll work for her!

And much nicer than having to be all cheerful for her, telling her "Nice try, better luck next time, etc." Although going in to it, she said she wasn't really expecting to win -- it was just for the exeperience.


Funny that they call her a teacher -- she hasn't taught in about a year... ;)

She's a good kid; she deserves it. :)


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bad son

I just realized this morning, as I was getting ready for work, that I never phoned my mom OR my dad to wish them a happy birthday! (Their birthday was in the last week of July.) I’m such a bad son…


Painful knee!

Very strange -- last night and early this morning, woke up four different times with a VERY painful right knee. Don’t know what exactly caused it, but when I sloooowly straightened my leg and then gently flexed it a few times, the pain went away. Could be a strange sleeping position; dunno.

Could be just getting old.

It’s happened to me once or twice before. Don’t remember if it was one, or two; another symptom of getting older?


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Minor webpage/html tips

Been doing some minor html-ing for work. The handout I received (based on a few printed-out web pages), says that "logical" tags (e.g. <em> and </em>) are preferred to "physical" tags (e.g. <i> and </i>) -- even though both are displayed as italics.

Similarly, e.g. <strong> and </strong> are preferred to <b> and </b>, even though both return boldfaced characters.

I did a quick web search to find an explanation, and
according to, the reason is that for the visually-impaired, text-readers know to verbally stress a word when "emphasize" is encountered -- whereas text readers ignore the cues for "italics".

The above-cited website suggests that both "italics" and "emphasize" have their uses, depending on the application or use: Italicize for **visually** distinguishing text (e.g. foreign words; beginnings of lists); emphasize for STRESSING words or phrases.

Good stuff!!! ;)

However, note that some websites -- like -- will allow "italics," but not "understand" the "emphasize" tags. So, use what you can...

In searching for a list of "less than" and "greater than" characters so I could post this blog entry, I found a nifty list of html special characters at -- like ☮ and ☯!!!

Be sure to put the semicolon at the end of the special code number, or the character may not display correctly.

An additional tip: A web page guy was here, discussing our company web page with our receptionist. I overheard a good tip, which was: If you have multiple pages coming off your main page, instead of dumping a page and building a new one with a different html address, it's better to just modify an existing page. (For example, don't dump "wedding.html" for "our_wedding.html".) Reason: The old one is already registered with search engines. If you put up a "replacement" page, then you go to the bottom of the web search list.

A good insight!!!


Monday, August 01, 2005

There are two types of people...

One of my often-used sayings is "There are two types of people: Those who [name of characteristic], and those who [name of opposing characteristic]."

Yeah, I realize that these are "ideal types" for you Sociologist/Weberian-types -- that there are folks in the middle of the two extremes. But really, IMO, people really do tend to cluster towards either of two ends of the spectrum.


-There are those who wander around the house while brushing their teeth, and those that stand at the sink. (Me = wander around; The Lady = stays put.) Also works for flossing.

-There are those who read on the toilet, and those who don't. (Indicator: pile o' magazines near the can.) And this tends to run in the family: modeling behaviors, I suppose.

-There are those who exercise -- and those who don't. On a regular basis, that is -- not these "fitness kicks" that last a month or two, or those once-a-month hit-the-gym/go-for-a-walk syndromes.

-...and -- There are those who collect stuff, and those who don't.

I'll elaborate a bit on that last one. People tend to be "collectors," or else not. Some folks pick up stuff that "could be useful"; other folks live without excess "stuff," divest themselves of things they haven't used in the last few years, etc.

There's also another dimension to the collecting/not collecting continium: The diversity of things collected. Some people are very specific, collecing a specific item as a hobby; others are just general hoarders -- often amassing what other folks perceive as "junk."

And, some collecting is in support of a hobby, like woodworking: there's an e-mail list I belong to called OldTools, where the members talk about the use and care of (and acquisition of!) hand tools -- usually for woodworking. Most of the guys (and they're nearly all guys, not gals) own ten or twenty hand saws, a similar number of hand planes, and probably more chisels. Etcetera. Granted, most of 'em pick up their gear for five bucks a pop at flea markets and garage sales. And usually they pick stuff up 'cause "it's a good price" or "it may come in handy." I'm not sure where on the above dimensions this would sit...

Anyhow: Computer folks. Do you have just one or two computers in your household -- say, a laptop for the two adult heads, or a laptop for the grownups and a desktop unit for the kids? Or, do you have a laptop or two, three or four desktop units, an old Commodore 64, and a few "caracasses" or "husks" out in the garage?

You play guitar -- o.k. If you're a non-collector, you'll have an acoustic guitar. Or an electric guitar. Or maybe one of each. Or do you have three acoustics, ten electric guitars, two electric basses, and a mandolin?

Most people own dishes and cutlery. Do you have just one set of dishes? Or an "everyday" set plus a "fancy/guest" set? Or multiple sets of dishes, in different patterns and colors?

Both The Lady and myself come from families that -- in their own ways -- collect "stuff." Therefore, we do as well (although not all our siblings do) -- which is part of why we get along so well. We both have a pile of CDs; we both have shelves upon shelves of books. I amass guitars and (inadvertently) computers, whereas she collects teacups and dinner services and the occasional silverware set.

Sorry: This one's a bit rambly. But, I still think that "collectors/non-collectors" is a pretty solid dichotomy.

Any other suggestions for "two types of people"? :)