Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Applied statistics

Last night, while taking a break from working on my Dissertation, I toyed with the idea of (someday) buying a cheap, older laptop (Pentium II? 500MHz-ish?) and using it as a portable multitrack recorder. I'd prob'ly use either Dyne:Bolic Linux (optimized for older machines!), or the Fluxbox (minimalist desktop) installation of Agnula DeMuDi Linux (De[bian-based] Mu[ltimedia] Di[stribution]). Both are free of cost, and downloadable online.

So, I took a few minutes to grab a newspaper off the recycling pile and glance through the classifieds section. Circled two or three that seemed like good prices, and saved the clipping for When I Finish My Dissertation (TM).

But then I wondered: What is a good price?

So, I took a few more minutes to enter five characteristics -- price, processor speed, hard drive size, RAM, and the generation of Pentium -- for the thirteen ads into SPSS (a statistical software package; yes, I have a license).

A few interesting findings:

-The zero-order correlations (a number from zero to 1.00 that measures how tightly related two things are) between price and the other four characteristics were all significant! This is surprising, considering the really low sample size (n=13).

(note''Significance'' is a measure of how ''stable'' or ''trustworthy'' the relationship is. If you're only looking at a handful of cases, it's hard to generate stable results. And ''zero-order'' just means that you're only looking at the relationship between two things; you haven't ''controlled'', or compensated, for anything else.)

-In addition to all being significant, they all had pretty strong correlations to the asking price: the lowest corrrelation (r=0.78) was for the generation of Pentium; the highest (r=0.96; remember, on a scale of 0.00 to 1.00!!!) was for the amount of RAM.

-I then ran an OLS regression to predict the selling price. (OLS regression = ''Ordinary Least-Squares; the software calculates the line the best fits the data, in hypothetical five-dimensional space. It squares all the distances of the points above and below the lines, because the dots above the line would have positive distances, and the dots below the line would have negative distances; squaring each distance makes 'em all postive numbers; then the minimizes the grand total of all those squared distances. And it's five-dimensional [in this instance] because there's five variables.) The estimated influence of both the generation of Pentium and the amount of RAM on the asking price were significant (i.e. stable, trustworthy; p<0.05; p =0.37-ish). Example: 500MHz, 12GB HD, 128MB RAM, Pentium III = $375

This predicted price is the ''average'' price for these specs. If the asking price in the classifieds is cheaper, then it's a bargain!!!

Which it was: $300, not $375!

So -- if I had three hundred bucks lying around -- and wasn't working on a Dissertation instead of recording -- that would be a good one to buy! It's ''below the curve'' -- so to speak!

If you live in Brisbane, Australia -- and buy things through the Weekend Shopper.

And that's why statistics is cool!!! :)


''Cute baby'' story from a new parent

So, my wife (AKA ''The Lady'') sometimes brings in The Bub to work, just to give her mum a break.

Apparently today, as she was sitting on my wife's lap, The Bub (13 months old, not yet talking) would pick up the phone, go ''blah blah blah'' into the mouthpieces, then type random stuff on the computer keyboard, then pick up the phone and go ''blah blah blah'' again.

Apparently, that's her impression of what mom does at work! :)

(Oct. 2 addendum: Apparently, when she talks on the phone she doesn't quite grasp the concept: holds the mouthpiece directly on her mouth, with the earpiece against her forehead.)


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Like planning a rock concert/music festival?

For the last month at work, I've been arranging a set of focus groups to take place this coming weekend. Recently, I noted to The Lady that the multi-faceted naure of it makes it very similar to planning a music festival.

There's five different types of people I'm arranging:

-people currently in a certain government program;

-people formerly in the government program;

-people potentially in the govt. program (i.e. ''at-risk'');

-''stakeholders'' (i.e. activitists and people who work ''in the industry'' -- one representative per organization); and

-parents of those currently, formerly, or potentially in the program.

Plus, I had to arrange the venue, transportation to the venue, lunch, and etcetera.

I've talked to fifteen or twenty current/potential/former program participants -- that's like rounding up fifteen or twenty bands. Talking to the fifteen or so different organizations to recruit ''stakeholder'' participatns was like trying to get festival sponsors. And sourcing and booking the venue was like -- well, like booking a venue.

Although this is all for a bunch of focus groups, not a big rock band festival. Ah well. Good practice, though. :)

And -- I've decided I don't want to be an events coordinator for a living.


Fatherhood: Status report

So far (kid age = 13 months old), I think fatherhood is like owning a dog that you can't leave home by itself when you go to the movies (or work).


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Aussie word for peanut butter

Just got back from making my daily sandwiches. Was reminded via a co-worker's comments that Aussies don't call it ''peanut butter'': it's ''peanut paste.''

Sounds like what you use to repair your broken peanuts.


To my faithful readers...

I just now retroactively posted about eight(?) posts -- including some that actually wrap around into the September ''archives'' page.

Just lettin' ya know. :)

(Been busy at work and/or stupid network wouldn't allow outside access; home modem also not working. Stinkin' computers...!) ;)


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Special license plate!

As The Lady and I were driving in to work today, I noticed we were behind a car with a license plate of ''914 GYE''. Is this my lucky day -- should I buy a lottery ticket? ;)


Monday, September 26, 2005

Lady, Bub, shoes

Here's a random (or technically, ''arbitrary'') blog posting. The Lady and The Bub, sitting on the sofa in the lobby of the local library. The Lady is putting shoes -- or rather, sandals -- on The Bub.



Saturday, September 24, 2005

Multiple kick pedals

I'm a bit of a pack rat, and a bit of a bargain-hunter. (These traits probably go together.) If it's a really good price -- including if it's slightly damaged but either (1) it doesn't impair the functionality or (2) I know I can fix it, I'll pick it up. Even if I don't have an immediate need for it. Just as long as it's within the realm of one of my ''hobby trajectories.''

For example, I currently own three kick pedals. Why? Well, the first one I bought for around thirty bucks in Tacoma (the far right pedal, FWIW), back when I originally roomed with Old Roommate. I wanted to teach myself the drums, so I started with just a kick drum and an old suitcase. Worked well enough.

Later, I bought a real kick drum from the younger brother of a high school friend: good, fine, I now have one kick drum, and one kick pedal.

But about a year ago, I was trawling e-bay and found a solid-looking kick pedal for a really low price. Bid; won it. (Fourty bucks? Don't recall.) It's the hefty black one on the left. And because it was a U.S.-based auction, I had it sent to Guitar Cousin, then picked it up and had to stuff it in my suitcase to bring it back home to Brisbane. Hm.

My aim is to buy (inexpensively), and/or build, another kick drum. Then I can do the whole double-bass thing. (It's been suggested to me that I could just get a double-bass pedal. Could. But purists would say that running two beaters to one drum head ''chokes'' the hits, because they don't get to ''ring out'' like they should.

And I also have a third one (the flaking gold-y one in the middle; brand name ''Dandy''). Why? Because it was an Aussie-based e-bay auction, and it was a really good price!!! And, who knows...

As an aside, the musicians reading this may've noticed I tend to refer to the pedals (and corresponding drums) as ''kick pedals'' (and ''kick drums''), rather than bass. This is a holdover from recording habits: when I write out the tracking sheets, writing ''bass'' makes it confusing whether it refers to the electric bass or the bass drum -- so I say ''kick.'' And the same number of characters as ''bass.''


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

So, I was making my lunch today in the tea room (or ''kitchen'', or ''staff room''), making a few peanut butter and jam sandwiches. (To facilitate my taking my lunch to work, rather than buying something inexpensive and oily from the tuck shop, I've brought in a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jam, and a loaf of bread.) This lady says, ''Wow! I haven't seen anyone make a peant butter sandwich in a long time!''

I said, ''Well, it's a very 'American' thing.'' (Most Aussies don't ''do'' peanut butter.) To which she replied, ''I'm an American.'' I listened to her talk: So she was! (At this point, I just assume everyone will talk Aussie...)

She's from the Midwest (after a bit, I heard the ''oo'' vowel sounds -- has always sounded Canadian to me), and also misses root beer, and has also noticed the language things -- like how you can't find real biscuits (scones aren't really the same), and Aussies think ''biscuits'' are cookies and/or crackers, anyhow.

So: One other American in the building. Plus at least three Scottish folks -- but that's another story. ;)


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Grandmother's painting

My still-living maternal [step-]grandmother does a style of painting called sumi painting. She does it as a hobby, rather than a living -- although she does sell her paintings at art shows for a nice little sum.

Sumi painting is characterized by only using sweeping brush strokes, rather than dabbing and little scribbly strokes. For example, a length of bamboo would be painted by making a long wide line, while bobbing the brush closer to the paper as it travels to create the ''nodes'' of the bamboo; then the leaves would each be a single brush stroke as well.

Grandma would actually clarify that some of her work technically isn't sumi painting in the traditional sense, since it's supposed to be monochromatic, and she often mixes in some color as well. It sells better to the Westerners, she says. ;)

The painting I've shown here hangs in our dining room. Again -- although you probably can't tell from the photo -- the painting is composed of single brush strokes. So, the bird chest, the bird wing, the bird tail -- each one single stroke.

This grandma has had a pretty interesting life. She actually was born in California, because her dad was a go-getter who had some farmland (a winery? I taped an interview of her, but I haven't listened to the tape for a while) in California. So, she's been an American citizen since the get-go. Then they moved back to Japan. Then World War II happened, and I think she may have been urged to renounce her American citizenship. Because they were afraid of being bombed, they moved all their furniture and valuables to this one relative's house who lived away from the main bombing targets. And then that relative's house got bombed, too, and burned down -- so all she has of family heirlooms are a few dishes and a handful of photos.

She had a brother, too, who was killed in the war. In addition to being a swell guy, he also played guitar -- so if he had lived, I might've liked him. :)

In many ways, this grandma is an inspiration. In the basement of her and Grandpa's house, she has a room set up with all her painting gear, paper, and mat-cutting and framing tools. I hope to set up similar with my music stuff, as well as my woodworking stuff. It always intrigues me, to see people's layouts that support their hobbies: shelves and racks and cubbyholes, with everything they need within easy reach.



Monday, September 19, 2005

Kids and favorite books

I don't know how universal this is -- and it probably depends on how much your parents read to you -- but it seems like most kids have a favorite book. A book that they insist gets read to them over and over and OVER -- until the parents have it memorized, and can read it without looking. But of course, you can't try changing the words, because the kid has the story memorized down to the word, and will correct you if you mis-speak or try to take shortcuts.

For me, it was a book called ''Parakeet Peter'' -- which, sadly (based on a quick search) appers to so out of print it's not even listed!!! Since it's one of my little-est kid books, it's in one of the many boxes of books (my parents encouraged reading!) out on the veranda. When the house -- finally -- gets built, and we have some bookshelf space, I'll take 'em all out.

So, for me it was ''Parakeet Peter.'' If I recollect correctly, in the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip it was ''Hamster Huey and the Eewie Kablooie.'' And, for the bub: ''Loud Leo Lion''

Very cute (biased, of course). She's thirteen months old, not quite walking, not lingual. And it's one of those cardboard-based books, with maybe five pages. But the finale of the book is when he finds his roar, by going ''Squeak -- squeak -- ROOOOAR!!!" And when you read ''Squeak... Squeak...,'' she turns expectantly to you, waiting. (Operant conditioning?) And when you go ''Rooooar!!!", she laughs, grabs the book, and then hands the book back to ya.



Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dog on bed

There are two types of people: those that let the dog up on the bed, and those that don't.

Last night, I was in the study typing on my dissertation (yay!), and The Lady was in bed, reading. Ralphie kept barking to be let up on the bed -- first time he's been like that since the tick! -- so at The Lady's merciful suggestion, I lifted him up.

But then he was so squirrelly (trying to chew on my pajamas, lie on my pillow, instead of staying down at the foot of the bed), that after a few attempts I had to take him off again.

Still -- it appears he's back to normal! Good. :)


Saturday, September 17, 2005

From my parents

Things you think of when you're driving to pick up the takeaway pizza: Things I got from my parents.

From my dad:

-Checking to see if things can be fixed, rather than just throwing them away

-The A-frame wooden play structure he built (shaped like a capital lettter ''A'', with the two sloped sides as wooden ladders and the cross-section as a platform, and a swing mounted underneath the center of the platfrom)

-Physically playing with my kids (carrying them around, letting them climb on you; when I was 18 y.o., he could still carry the entire family -- mom, me, two younger sisters, on younger brother -- at once)

-Playing music (radio, LPs, 8-tracks, CDs) while puttering or doing mindless tasks like working on the car or cleaning out the garage

-Doing your own pruning, pouring concrete, replacing the siding on the house....

From my mom:

-The love of reading, esp. reading while sitting at the kitchen/dining room table and eating popcorn or leftovers

-Reading at the table on a rainy day while eating ochazuke (sp? leftover rice in tea; I cheat and put shyoyu [Jp. soy sauce] on it)

-If you own your own sewing machine, you can mend torn clothing and make simple costumes (e.g. vests)

-Respect for women

From both:

-It's neat-o to have fruit trees in your yard

-It's fun to have a vegetable garden

-Using ohashi (chopsticks) as normal

-Calling shyoyu, ochazuke, ochawan, ohashi by their proper names (I didn't realize there was another word for ''shyoyu'' until I was in middle school!)

-Playacting, being expressive (both are drama majors...)

-Being different from the neighbors is o.k.

-Furniture doesn't have to match

Probably other stuff, as well.

We'll see what I pass on my kids.


Friday, September 16, 2005

A few things on our mantelpiece

In the house we're living (I keep referring to it at ''Gran's house,'' even though we live there), there's a fairly wide mantel above the fireplace (which no one uses). Because we're short on space, and long on stuff, we've place a few odds and ends there. To the left is my one and only Speech and Debate trophy from high school. Lincoln-Douglas debate, for those of you who did debate.

Aw, heck: for those of you who didn't do debate, L-D debate is when people debate one-on-one (instead of the more typical two-on-two), and a moral issue, rather than a policy issue, is debated. This was my one and only go of L-D debating -- it was the last meet of the season. The topic of the day was about whether in a hostage situation (in specific, holding an airplane full of hostages), terrorists should be negotiated with. There was only myself and another person, and as I recall she was nice, but not terribly verbally skilled. Not that I was, either -- I'm much smoother now, due to the teaching I've done over the years.

Anyhow, since there was only two of us, we went through it once with myself being the ''pro,'' and another time being the ''con.'' As I recall, both times I did better than her: The first time through, I argued that the individuals on the airplane -- and their families, were valuable human beings, and that human lives were more important than abstract concepts and policies like ''not negotiating with terrorists.'' Then, when we went through again, I pulled a line from the Classic Star Trek movies, and argued that ''The good of the many, outweighs the good of the one," and that unfortunately the handful of people in the plane would have to be sacrificed to prevent additional hijackings, because once baddies discovered that this was a useful bargaining tactic they would escalate its use.

I remember the judge smiling and nodding when I pulled out the ''Good of the many outweights the good of the one'' line -- explicitly referenced to Star Trek -- so I'd occassional repeat it. Dunno -- maybe he was a closet Trekkie. Anyhow, I won 2-0, and got the trophy.

Which I then dressed up in a paper hat and a cape. (He also used to have a little flag on a toothpick, but that's been lost in one of my many moves.) I'd like to claim that he sat in the high school trophy locker for that school year (1996-1997) wearing the hat and cape, but that probably wasn't allowed. But I do know that he graced the shelves of most of my dorm rooms and apartments thereafter.

The little ''lady bowling'' trophy below it belonged to one of my late maternal grandmothers (I have two; I'll explain later). It has her name inscribed on it.

This gavel -- and the stand -- was made by my paternal grandfather. He also gave us another one, without a stand, which The Lady keeps at work (she teaches Criminal Justice type things).

Regarding the multiple maternal grandmothers: My mom's parents divorced when she was in middle school (very unheard of at the time -- back in the late 1950s/early 1960s? can't be bothered to do the math); my grandpa remarried long before I was born. So, as far as I'm concerned, I've always had two grandmothers on that side: a biological one (who remained single, out of choice), and a step-grandmother. And never really thought much about it.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

''Before'' and ''after'' for the middle lot

Or, ''the middle block,'' as The Lady's family (and Aussies in general?) refer to them as ''blocks'', not ''lots'' like the Yanks that I know.

Anyhow, TG did a spiffy ''before'' and ''after'' layout of the house-prepping carnage on the middle block. Plz see here.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Necktie price increase

Every Wednesday here on campus, there's a mini- street fair over by the main cafeteria/student center area. There's two stands that sell ''vintage'' (i.e. used) clothing. Both sell neckties, five bucks each. So, every Wednesday on my way to pick up some lunch I wander by, browse through, and pick up one to three ties (but usually just one). Usually, the more grotesque the better.

I'll have to get around to taking a photo of some of them. I've been doing this since I started this job, so I've picked up around fifteen ties, I'd say.

One of the stalls doesn't have as wide of a range, and the owner leaves around 12:30, so I don't always manage to look through her selection of ties. The other one, though, is there pretty much all day, and actually notifies me if she's received a new selection.

Unfortunately, today she notified me that she's raised her prices to ten bucks a tie: after cleaning them, the handling just isn't worth it to her for five bucks each. Fair enough: she's in a business.

But, it means that I can't justify a tie a week any more. Five bucks a pop -- sure! Ten bucks -- ehhh. No longer an ''impulse buy'' sort of thing.

Guess I'll just have to frequent the other lady's shop. Or limit it to every other week.



The smell of wet nappies

Good morning!

Could be the brand of disposable diaper we use -- but by morning, wet nappies smell like Corn Nuts.

(Example at -- Just the regular flavor -- not sour cream or anything...)

Luckily, I'm not into Corn Nuts. ;)


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Stupid questions?

So, I'm bidding on a contract (on behalf of my research center), and this Tender Document asks the goofiest things. I mean, I understand why they're getting into this level of detail: being legalistic, covering themselves, making sure the (eventual) contractor can actually perform the tasks that are needed.

But still -- sheesh.

Example #1: ''Describe your ability to provide results in a cross-tabular form.''

(Translation: Can you generate percentage tables?)

Umm, running cross-tabs. Well, you'd:

-Use a spreadsheet program or statistical software package;
-Open up the data;
-Select the ''tables'' option from the drop-down menu, or type in the ''generate table'' command in the command line window;
-Choose the relevant variables; and
-Either click ''OK'' or hit ''Enter''. Ayep.

Example #2: ''Demonstrate ability to aggregate/dissaggregate data at a regional and/or organizational level.''

(Translation: Can you break down results by region and/or company?)

Umm --

-Click the ''Select if [name of variable] = [desired value]'' option -- or include in your syntax statement the relevant ''select if [name of variable] = [desired value]'' command.

-And then run a table, or run your regression, or whatever.

(Or, you could even do a nested table (three-way table), and have your intersecting variables of interest (e.g. level of satisfaction vs. organization) separated out by region; do this by (again) choosing the relevant variables for the row, column, and super-column, or by typing the variables in the correct order into your syntax or command line.)

All of the things they ask for are reasonable abilities to require -- but they're so darned basic that it's really hard to ''describe'' or break down into words. Makes me feel like I'm taking an essay exam for some ''Intro to Social Science Research Methods'' class.

I think I've figured out why this is getting to me:

(1) It's the requirement to ''describe'' that gets me. If they just want us to attest that, yeah, we're able to do this stuff -- sure!

(2) They're asking really basic, ''two-clicks-of-the-mouse'' types of tasks, but overlooking processes that actually requires some thought/skill/awareness -- like:
-the treatment of missing values;
-re-coding and aggregating variables; and
-just general data-cleaning.

Weak analogy: Applying for a network administrator, programming, or web-design position. ''Please describe the process you would use for burning data onto a CD-R.'' (Well, you open the CD-burning application... open the tray to the CD-ROM drive... insert the blank media...)

It's not quite at the level of being insulting -- but certainly, a bit tedious to write up.

OTOH, I'm paid by the hour... ;) Part of the job.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Birthday (follow-up)

Out running errands, and found a blue-green top that could go with the shoes; bought it with the remainder of The Lady's ''birthday money''. Would work with white or black pants/slacks in between.


Linguistic patterns from old co-worker's

I tend to adopt speaking patterns from friends and former co-workers -- although my wordage can fade in and out. Using ''-idge'' as a suffix, for example, comes from a guy I knew in high school. Friend of a good friend, used to put ''-itch'' at the end of words (e.g. ''lunch-ich''). Used to drive me nuts -- but then years later I noticed I was doing a variation of it.

The last day or two, noticed I've been saying ''Yeeowp'' (descending voice, moderately drawn-out) instead of ''Ayep.'' Got that from Joel Johnson when I worked at The Packaging Store in the Seattle Area.

So, Joel (or someone who knows Joel) -- you get credit for one of my speech-isms!

Ayep! (Boy-howdy.)


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Happy B-Day to The Lady

Went shopping for The Lady's B-Day today. My gift to her was the guilt-free purchase of a pair of shoes that are fun but horribly impractical, that she normally couldn't justify. (I'll be discreet about the amount; a large amount for some, a pittance for others.) We ended up with a seafoam green pair of Dianne Ferrari (sp?) shoes, kinda high-heeled things. There was some money left over in her ''budget,'' so we tried to find a top to go with -- but couldn't find anything she liked.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Good doggie news!

The Lady phoned the vet this morning, who said that Ralphie responded very well to the treatment, and we can pick him up at noon today. Except that we both work, so The Lady will actually skip out early and pick him up early afternoon.

I'll admit, it was a bit odd to not have a cold, wet nose waking me up this morning to alert me to his need for breakfast.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Groovy Brisbane place-names

I really enjoy Australian place-names. In the Pacific Northwest, there's a lot of fun, Native American-derived place-names -- like ''Sequim'' and ''Tulalip'' and ''Pullyup.''

My favorite local place-name is ''Booval'' -- which is pronounced ''Boo-VAHL'', but which I pronoucne ''BOOvuhl'' (on syllable; rhymes with ''removal'') -- drives The Lady nutty!!! Also ''Capalaba'', which is supposed to be ''Cap-ALLAH-bah'', but which I pronounce ''CAP-a-LABBA'' (or maybe like a fraternity: Kappa-Labba).

Part of the difference is that I unconsciously try to apply the pronounciation rules of Japanese (I took a few years in high school), which is similar to the Hawaiian pronnounciation system: Cluster the consonants and vowels. But not here.

And, as you may've noticed, the vocal inflection is different for Aussies. For example, I say ''root beer'' -- but The Lady says ''root bieh'' (emphasis on ''bieh'').

What put me on this topic is this evening (still at work!), I've been doing some address searches, to see whether potential participants for a study are close enough to taxi in to the focus group venue, and which are too darned far away. So: In the postcode ''4560'', in addition to boring suburbs/towns like ''Mapleton,'' ''Rosemount,'' and ''Parklands'', there be spiffy ones like ''Bli Bli,'' ''Cooloolabin,'' ''Dulong,'' ''Kiamba,'' ''Kulangoor,'' ''Kureelpa,'' ''Nambour,'' and ''Perwillowen.''

So: Someone from Seattle would say ''Coo-loo-lah-bin''; but it's really ''Coo-lool-ah-bin''. Probably.


An eventful morning

Had an eventful morning this morning...

Last night, Ralphie threw up a few times -- which isn't usual, but neither is it shockingly un-usual for dogs. Also a little less peppy than usual. Checked him over for ticks, but didn't find any, so thought perhaps he was just a bit under the weather. Although I did think it was kinda strange that he couldn't be bothered to bark his head off at the paper shredder.

This morning, he was even less peppy; hind legs were a bit wonky; breathing was a bit wheezy, and panted even though the weather wasn't particularly warm and he hadn't exerted himself. The Lady looked him over for ticks, but didn't find any. Mum also came over and looked, but didn't see any. But, we thought we should take him in to the vet, to have him checked out.

We were out on the veranda, where the light was better, and about the time we were thinking of taking him to the vet, he threw up on the floor. And while we were standing around, contemplating cleaning it up, The Bub threw up all over, twice in quick succession: down her front, in my hand, on my shoulder, down my sleeve, on my pants leg (I was sitting down for the second one). Then she started crying. Poor kid!

So, everyone (me, Mum, The Lady, Tall Guy) pitched in and cleaned up one or the other form of vomit and/or clothing.

(Nothing wrong with The Bub, as it turned out -- just had a hair tickling the back of her throat, and babies have a very good gag reflex -- a safety thing, I suppose.)

So, we took Ralphie in to the vet. We didn't have an appointment, so we had to wait a little bit. But when the vet saw him, within about three minutes she had found the tick: fairly centered, across the shoulders just below the collar. Waaaay swollen; yech!!! (For you non-dog owners, ticks release an enzyme to keep the blood flowing as they slurp it; kinda like mosquitoes. But it's toxic to dogs.)

They have to keep him in overnight, maybe 2-3 days. He's right between Stage 1 and Stage 2, so with proper care he's still recoverable; plus he's young (2 yrs. old) and sturdy, so he has a 95% chance of recovery. Still, The Lady was sad about having to be separated from the doggie: At the end of the examination, he walked over to the examination room door, expecting to leave with the rest of us... :(

But, on the way out, a guy was bringing in a very gentle German shepherd whose back legs were barely functional -- she kept trying to walk, but flopping over. The guy said she was 15 years old, and her legs were going. From the statements and questions made by the receptionist ("We don't have a room available at the moment"; "Were you planning on staying?"), and from the way he was crying but trying not to, I'm pretty sure he was there to have the dog put down. And she seemed like a very sweet, gentle dog.

So, that put things into perspective!

Anyhow, because of all of this I didn't get in to work until around noon.

Which is why I'm taking a quick break to blog at 7:30-ish p.m. -- I'm here at work, making up the hours.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Out of touch

Even though I live in Brisbane, Australia, I'm still on the e-mail list of the university department I'm still enrolled in (two credits a quarter).

Today, rcv'd a departmental e-mail that ''Trudy'' will be leaving the department at the end of this week. Who???

A strong sign that you're truly out of touch: When someone's leaving that you don't even know.


Save that avocado!!!

I think this was a pretty Galoot-ish thing to do. ("Galoot" = one who uses hand-tools over electron-burners, and generally does things the hands-on, archiac way for the fun of it; see OldTools mailing list.)

A few months ago I went on an avocado kick -- ate an avocado a day. This lasted about a week, at which point I got dosed out on them.

The avocado skins seemed kind of leathery, and it seemed a shame just to toss them. Thought I could make some sort of useful container out of them.

On my first attempt, washed out the insides with soap and water, and left them on a shelf in my air-conditioned office. They dried too quickly, though, and curled inwards; they also became brittle.

For my second attempt, I scraped out the inside with a spoon, but didn't worry too much about any remaining residue. I then covered the skin inside and out with boiled linseed oil. Set them aside to dry outdoors, under cover.

Success! Sturdy, slightly flexible, and non-cracked.

Months later, they're still good; sturdy, intact. In addition to the two shown here, I have two other pairs. But, umm -- not sure what to do with 'em. Paper clip holders?


A macho feat?

Monday afternoon (or early evening), I discovered that I can do six to eight pushups (I wasn't really counting) with my nephew sitting cross-legged on my shoulders.

Of course, he's only eight, and a skinny little guy. But still -- pretty spiff!

Which makes me think: Once The Bub is old enough to hold still properly, I should do daily pushups with her across my shoulders. That way, when she's adult-sized, I'll still be able to do it. A neat-o party trick...


Singing in the shower slows you down...

...which, when I typed it, reminded me of "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down..." (existing song lyrics; forget which song).

Discovered, by accident, the key -- for myself, at least -- to taking brisk, efficient showers: Not singing. This morning we were running late, so I meant to take a speedy shower. But, I started singing: nothing in particular, just nonsense; then a song by a Seattle band called Bell that I like, which maybe someday I'll cover; then an idea for a Goth-y (or maybe Nine Inch Nails-ish) song about pulling up negative memories whenever you want to nestle into a good, solid mope.

And then I realized, hmmm -- been in here a while. And I had.

So, memo to myself: For a speedy shower, no singing!!!


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The irony of eyeglasses

To my fellow wearers of spectacles out there...

I have two or three fixed places that I put my glasses when I'm not wearing them: On my nightstand when I'm in bed; on the landry basket lid when I'm in the shower. But sometimes I set them down elsewhere, like when I take a nap on the sofa.

And then I can't find 'em. So I try to look for them -- but of course I'm impaired in my ability to hunt for them because -- of course! -- I can't see!!!

Eventually, I do find 'em -- mostly by touch.

I suppose the analog would be someone with false legs who can't reach the shelf they're on without the legs.

Also, "The Irony of Eyeglasses" would make a good album title.


Monday, September 05, 2005

A very good Australian Father's Day

So, yesterday (Sunday) was Father's Day in Australia. Mother's Day is the same in AU as in the U.S., but holding Father's Day in June would've clashed with the Queen's Birthday (a national holiday, analogous to President's Day) -- so it's in September, instead.

I had the best Father's Day I ever had (although I've only had two so far): It consisted of puttering, and doing things I've been wanting to do, but have put off due to Dissertation obligations. The morning was family-ish; the afternoon and evening, me-ish.

Here's the rundown:

-Went to church. Lotsa people skipped; we would've, as The Lady's sister was hosting a brunch thing for their dad, but The Lady was ''on stage'' (Liturgical Assistant) that morning.

-Changed a nappie (''diaper'')

-To McDonald's for food

-To the shopping center, for The Lady to browse for some summer pajamas (weather is warming up! Mixed feelings regarding the impending heat.)

-Changed nappie

-Shared a footlong meatball sub at Subway with the missus

-Grocery shopping with wife and child (or rather, wife did the thinking, I mostly followed along)

-Visited The Lady's parents, gave her dad the card & gift; stayed and chatted for a bit

-Home -- to putter!!! Which included...

-Hung up and used the punching bag. Bought it over a year ago; this is the third(?) time I've used it. Convinced I would use it more if I had it set up where it was (1) sheltered from the rain, (2) had mosquito netting, and (3) had lighting for evening use.

I hang it from a hook that I've tied to a tree branch, off in the bush to the side of the back yard.

The place


Double dragon (?-I forget)

I'm stomping on the foliage a bit. But the ferns will grow back when we move.

(a mediocre) Roundhouse kick

Yes, I stretched out beforehand. Prefer to avoid injuries.


(Action photos courtesy of Tall Guy.)

-Move piles of wood. Have some small logs of local wood -- some split to prevent checking, some I didn't have time for. Been out there for over a year. However, I've decided I don't like where I placed them, as it's hard to mow around them. So, I consolidated them.



After -- closer view

-The Lady returns home from the parents, where she's been sorting through some boxes she'd been storing there. I change Bub's nappy.

-Order and pick up pizza. Father's Day; I like pizza.

-Play drums w/ The Bub. I get the high hat pedal, kick drum pedal, and a drumstick in my right hand; she gets two drumsticks while sitting on my left leg; I hold around her torso with my left arm. (The Lady, meanwhile, switches over laundry, etc.)

-Eat pizza.

-Open gifts from wife and child. Little sliver bell from The Bub (I collect all manner of noisemakers and musical instruments); from The Lady, a green shirt with an electric bass on it, and a book of Japanese prints (1700-1850-ish).

-Fix The Bub's toy keychain/electronic noisemaker. One of the green buttons (each button makes a different sound) was jammed in. I unscrewed the screws, popped the back open, and freed the stuck button.

-Examine ''broken'' electric guitar. I thought one of my electric guitars had a faulty input jack. Popped it out, tested the continuity with a meter, and it looked o.k. (resistance varied as I turned the volume knob). Reassembled, tried in the guitar amp. Heh -- works fine! Sure.

-Play guitar. Since I had the guitar and amp out anyhow, I also brought out my lipstick pickup guitar to compare and contrast its sound with the humbucker's sound. Also got to properly try out a ''new'' distortion pedal I've had for a few months (DOD ''Big Pig''), both alone and in conjunction with an ''auto-way'' pedal. Also got to familiarize myself with my Aussie-voltage guitar amp, which I've not really experimented with. Came up with a few riffs which may be of future use.

-Watch NCIS on t.v. One of the few t.v. shows I watch; like CSI -- but better!!! ;) While watching, ate boiled peanuts that I picked up as an impulse buy that aftenoon at the grocery store; had 'em years ago when the family motorhomed across The South, incl. Georgia. Good, though a bit over-salted.

-Fix kick pedal that I had picked up off e-bay for around fifteen bucks a few months ago. The spring tension adjustment knob was stuck; broke it loose with a pair of pliers (or is it ''two pair''? One to keep the rod from turning, the other to turn the knob). Easy enough.

-Read the book of Jp. prints in bed. Then, g'nite!

-Also, somewhere in there, The Bub and I drew a picture together. Her first drawing!!! ;)

All in all, a wonderful day! It encompassed three of my four interests: woodworking (pile o' wood), martial arts (punching bag), music (drums, guitar). Didn't include computers, but that's o.k., as my interests in computers are more as in ''informed user'' (and to support my music-ing).

(I don't include Sociology/Social Science, as I do that for a living!!!)


Term coinage: ''Blammer''

Bummer: I thought I was leading-edge, coining the term ''blammer'' for ''blog-spammer'' (i.e. one who leaves stinkin' advertizements in the ''Comments'' section of a person's blog). But I did a quick Google search, and there's several hits already.

So, it's been done.

Good term, though.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Pics of old homestead

Just to give you a sense, here's some snapshots of the aforementioned old homestead.

Side view. Yes, there's a building in there!

Front doorway


The Lady's decided we should just knock it down. We'll probably try to save the timber, though, as it's some nice, old stuff. Maybe use it as flooring in the library/home office?

Also, here's a shot of some of the other misc. treasures in one of the many, many other sheds on the property.

Some nifty, old stuff. I think the two-handled device in the picture is an old plough -- but I could be wrong. Depending on the shed, there's shovels, two-man saws, scythes, semi-rotting cabinets, etc. Plus a lot of old car parts and misc. scraps of metal.


Aussie pronounciation

I'm keep ing a running list of homophones caused by Aussie pronounciations. (Note: You could also say ''homonym'' -- but ''homophone'' is technically more correct; see The earliest one I discovered is that Aussies pronounce ''pawn shop'' like ''porn shop'' -- which can lead to some embarrassing misunderstandings (e.g. ''Hey, ma -- I'm taking my guitar down to the porn shop.'')

The lastest one, which came up at work a few days ago, is when someone was saying the Brisbane Lions sports team [no, I don't remember which sport!] had a spin-off team called the ''Brisbane Roars''. Except another co-worker kept thinking ''raws'' -- like ''raw meat''.

So: If you want to affect a convincing Aussie accent, ''law'' becomes ''lawr'' (as in ''lore''/''folklore''); a lion's roar becomes ''rawr'', and ''pawn'' becomes ''porn''.


Some visual tricks

Yesterday a co-worker showed me some visual cognitive tricks -- for lack of a ''smoother'' term -- on the web.

First one: Can you see the difference?,1518,grossbild-510125-372161,00.html

Second one: I can see some college students (either majoring in Psych, or Drama) pulling this one off some weekend.

Third one: Various ''continuity'' tricks (continuity -- the bane of film-makers!). Apparently, only aobut 30% of the population picks up on these.


Friday, September 02, 2005


Got a haircut earlier this week. Self-performed -- just a buzz-clipper with a plastic ''spacer'' attachment; a mirror; and some trial-and-error.

At work the next day, several people asked me ''Hey! Got a haircut?''

To which I replied, ''Actually, got 'em allcut.''

Yet another one of my dad's lines, which I've appropriated. Feel free.



At work earlier this week, a co-worker mentioned that she forgot to bring any fruit to work. (She usually brings an apple or some-such, as an afternoon snack.) I said, ''Well, I brought a few oranges, if you'd like one.''

Her reply: ''Ah, too bad you didn't bring any Mandarins. They're easier to peel.''


Realized that for Aussies, Mandarin oranges are not ''oranges''; they're Mandarins. A completely separate category -- in the same way that lemons aren't oranges. Whereas for Yanks, Mandarins are a sub-category of oranges.

And so the question ''Would you like a Mandarin? Or would you rather have an orange?'' makes perfect sense to an Aussie.

But then, Aussies are over-specific for beets: they call 'em ''beetroots.'' However, they don't call other root vegetables ''carrotroots'' or ''turniproots.'' Go figure.

BTW: There is a rhyme to ''orange.'' It's ''flange.''


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Update on Travis' playhouse

Phoned two local big-metal-shed-building companies, just to get a rough sense of prices for my [eventual] playhouse.

Stated criteria: They assemble; they pour the concrete; no ''garage door''; two person-doors; two windows.

Asked for two sizes: 8.5m x 7m (for the music room/gym plus woodshop) and 6m x 7m (for just the music room/gym; the woodshed could be a small, separate shed).

Company #1: around AU$10k; around AU$7.5k

Company #2: around AU$11k; around AU$9k

So, they seem to be about one-third the price of the ''built like a regular house'' version: Best-case, $10k vs. $29k; $7.5k vs. $20k.

I'd have to add the interior walls and insulation myself. Once labor and materials are included, I'm not sure what the savings would be (easy to price -- but not now). And maybe the full-size one ($10k) might be reasonable, relative to the smaller one -- as I'd have to subtract the cost of building the small, stand-alone workshed against the ''$10k minus $7.5'' gap.

But -- not anytime soon.


Howdy to Uptown Danielle

...and, a special ''howdy!!!'' to Uptown Danielle! Pleased to see you're still reading. ;)


The purpose of the mix

Went to the refectory [''cafeteria''] on campus to pick up some cheap food. Thursdays is apparently live music day in the seating area out front. Today, a jazz group: drummer, electric bass, keys, sax, and trumpet.

Out front, you could barely hear the snare, and couldn't hear the kick drum at all. Tracked down the sound guy and suggested boosting the upper-mids on the kick, so you could at least hear the ''twack''. He declined.

He said that in jazz music -- esp. this type of jazz (whatever that means) -- you're not supposed to hear the kick drum. Or the snare, really. Just the poly-rhythms of the cymbals.

Uh, o.k. Maybe. But I really doubt that any style of music would include instruments that you can't hear at all!!! Sure, you'd want to mix some louder and some softer, to vary the prominence of the different instruments. But you'd think you'd want to be able to hear all of them -- at least subliminally, as a wash or fill.

If you can't hear an instrument -- why bother playing it? He should've told the drummer to just save his leg muscles.

But, I didn't argue; his gig. (Although arguably, the gig of the musicians, not the sound guy -- it should be their call as to what instruments are heard or not.) And I don't know jazz; maybe it's true. [Readers?]

On the other hand, he looks to be about 45 years old. Maybe that's why he's a university sound guy, not on the road with Metallica or the Foo Fighters: he's just not that good.



Online regional terminology quiz

Pretty interesting! Online quiz to see what region of the U.S. is most represented by your terminology.

Let me know what you scored... ;)

Curiously, I scored 47%, whereas my dad scored 35%. Yet we were both raised in the Everett-Seattle area. (Granted, twenty-some years apart...) His sibs scored around the 40s, as I recall.

One of the terms the ask about is ''liquor store.'' That's what it's called in WA State. About a year ago I found out that in other regions, it's called a ''package shop''(?). Here in Aussie-land, it's a ''bottle shop'' -- including some that are drive-through.

Pretty strict DUI/DWI laws, though.