Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Monday, October 31, 2005

After-dinner musings: possible city dweller

My room has a little balcony or alcove -- not sure what to call it, as its railing is flush with the face of the building: does it have to hang over to be a balcony? Anyhow, has a single, white-painted iron chair with a red-painted cement floor; about 5.5ft x 5.5ft (about 1.7m x 1.7m; vaguely measured it).

Sat out there for a few minutes last night, and also this morning, and also just a few minutes ago. My room looks out onto a parking lot; directly below is a sidewalk, then a narrow strip of some plants and two trees, then the parking lot with the occasional tree planted here and there: the tree closest to my ‘’balcony’’ is centered between the two trees closest to my balcony, which are planted in the narrow ‘’green strip.’’ I’m on the first floor, but raised up slightly, so I look out directly at the leafy zone of the trees.

I could imagine myself in Paris, or some urban place, downtown-ish -- one of those New York neighborhoods, maybe. Sipping my morning (or afternoon) cup of tea, feeling the cool air on my face, watching the seasons change by the change of the leaves and the feeling of the air. Maybe after a few years of living here, put a few potted plants out on the balcony; maybe a window box. Maybe being a writer -- a playwright? -- instead of a musician (my gear takes up too much room! And, too noisy.) and living in this room as a studio apartment: get a little electric burner or two and put it on the counter top above the mini-‘fridge. Trade one of the twin beds for a sofa, and get a coffee table (or a wooden crate, or flat-topped steamer chest). Leading a solitary, slightly lonely existence in my tiny New York studio apartment.

Oh yeah: And a bookcase or two over in the corner by the sofa. Maybe have one or two shelves full of LPs -- because that feels like more of a ‘’playwright’’ thing to have than CDs.

Too tiny to take up woodworking -- unless it was some smaller version, like carving wooden figurines.

Maybe the nice fellow -- and eventually, the nice middle-aged fellow, and eventually nice older fellow -- who stops by the newsstand every morning to pick up his newspaper and see if either of his two magazines are in. And maybe stops by the local coffee shop every Thursday night for live jazz night (which in reality I’m not that in to -- but it fits nicely with the studio apartment, the occupation -- and the balcony).

Heh! Fun little daydream. Tragically romantic. (Or, ''romantically tragic''?)

However, I like my life. A good riff, though: ought to turn it into a song; maybe a film short. Come back here to University House (the place I’m staying), bring in a few props, shoot on location.

BTW, took another look at the furniture: turns out the cabinet that houses the mini-‘fridge, the dresser, the nightstand, the wardrobe and the desk all have the same handles -- so, possibly all from the 1960s(?). Must be the differing angles that threw me off. The little stand in the bathroom, though, is either homemade or from the 1930s-1950s, though.


Missed breakfast

Gar! Woke up at around 6:30am (voices in the hall), then at 9:45am. Breakfast served from 7:30am-9:30am. Wanted to get up around 8:30, but got caught out by the whole “a.m./p.m. dot” on the clock radio -- system is backwards from our clock at home. Lunch not served until noon. Will have to visit the mini convenience store, see what food items they have.

''Voices in the Hall'' would be a good album title and/or band name.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

In Cranberrry

O.k., so I’m in Cranberry, the capitol of Aussie-land -- or, what most people call ‘’Canberra’’.

Bored; too quiet here. T.V. but no radio. Have a laptop from work, so searched the hard drive for mp3, Windows media files, and MIDI files. Found a few of the two latter, so am playing them in a loop; right now listening to some cheezy “2001” variation on a theme MIDI file.

Haven’t blogged for most of this week; been busy. Thursday night stayed semi-late at work (7pm?), then came home, spent some time with the family, then stayed up ‘til about 1:15am doing my Aussie taxes. (Due Oct 31st; instead of Halloween, they have taxes due: scary enough.) Friday night, stayed until 10pm at work, getting things ready for Saturday’s interviews, plus prep a mass survey that needs to go out Monday or Tuesday. Which normally, I’d just do Monday and Tuesday -- except I’ll be in Canberra. Saturday, did the interviews (along with some co-workers, but I’m coordinating): met up at 9:15am, there until 4:15pm. Then, came home, spent some time with the family, plus packed.

NO work on the Dissertation for the last few days, due to working late. Bleh. But will be bored and lonely for all of this week’s evenings, so hopefully will get a lot done. Dumped my misc. word processing documents onto the laptop (which I’m composing my blog on, rather than Dissert-ing).

So, this morning (Sunday), watched The Bub while The Lady did her taxes this morning; then we ran some errands at the local mall, including buying me a little pouch for my LED flashlight, as my current one had completely worn out: the bottom was threadbare, held together only by black duct tape, and the strap kept coming off, despite duct tape reinforcements. AU$15 -- ouch! -- for a new one, as a knives ‘n’ things type of shop. Cheaper than the leather ones, though. Seems a little steep for a black nylon pouch. Could pick up a small camera case with a belt loop for eight bucks, but it would be much too big for the little LED sqeeze-light (which is surprisingly bright!). In Tacoma, found rectangular black nylon belt pouches for (IIRC) five bucks each -- at a sporting goods store, in the hunting section, for holding ammo clips. But apparently not as many guns in Brisbane, Australia, as in Tacoma, U.S.A.

Dropped off at the airport around 1:15pm; Brisbane to Sydney, Sydney to Canberra (direct flights sold out). After checking in, dumping off my stuff in my room, and phoning The Lady, I moseyed down to the restaurant (staying on the college campus, and didn’t feel like trying to make my way to civilization just to look for a cheaper dining option). All the main meals were around twenty-five bucks; ended up ordering the grilled lamb. Smallish proportion, but oh-so-artfully arranged on the plate. Enough that I wasn’t hungry, though. (Oh! And had a large-ish, and tasty, bread roll with butter beforehand.) Still, should’ve ordered the $5 side salad plus $5 side veggies instead -- maybe times two. Not sure what my per-meal reimbursement is...

Now 9:38pm laptop time, but 10:38pm local time (daylight savings, varies by state). Older room, but nifty that way: inexpensive but solid furniture, from a range of decades: desk from the ‘40s, wardrobe from the ‘50s, dresser from the ‘60s; bedspreads from the ‘70s. Has a mini-fridge, plus the food and drink they’ll charge you handsomely for if you take it. But, also has a small glass pitcher and two water glasses, so at least I get to have cold water -- plus somewhere to put my leftovers if I end up with any. (Actually, having dinner on Tuesday with a law school friend of The Lady’s who lives here; so, leftovers.)

I’ve a hankering for something sweet-ish to drink -- some watered-down cola, perhaps. (At least since my college days, I’ve watered down my soft drinks at about a 1:5 ratio -- although I do a 50-50 mix when I’m feeling sassy. Otherwise, too sweet, too bubbly, and -- for colas -- too acidy: melts your teeth.) Rather than sample from the mini-‘fridge, I’ll see what the soda machine out in the courtyard says.

Breakfast is paid for as part of my training here. I’m here as part of my new part-time Data Archivist position. Training starts around lunchtime on Monday, and ends around lunchtime on Friday. Lunch and dinner, I just save the receipts.

Hm -- is this what prison is like? Bored, small room. Think I’d go nutty. Well, actually, I’d survive. But I’d probably end up writing a play, or learning how to draw. Depends on if I was allowed paper and pen, or paper and crayons.

Waiting for a phone call from The Lady -- probably 10pm or so.

Hey! I suppose the room’s clock radio has a... radio! Could try that, instead of the cheezy MIDI files. ;)

Well, that’s probably enough. 9:46pm, laptop time.



Saturday, October 29, 2005

The price of fame?

Tall Guy recently wrote about the price of fame. One thing that's concerned me over the years that that rock and roll -- or at least, breaking in to it -- is in many ways a young person's game. I still could sleep on floors, or five to a motel room, or in the van -- but... I'd prefer not to.

And I've always been a bit of a homebody, a non-tourist (which makes tomorrow somewhat ironic -- ''ironic'' used in the lazy, non-correct sense). I just wouldn't enjoy spending six months on tour: I'd put up with it, in [hopefully!] a good-natured manner -- because one puts up with things one has to do. But I'd rather be in my own home, with my wife and child. Funny, that.

I think the compromise might be that I'd consider do a few three-day, local-ish tours (if such a need ever arose). And if TG and I happened to have something approaching a hit record, I'd bring the wife and kid along, too. And I'd tour maybe once.

Or, so I say.

Maybe I can make like the Beatles [latter-era], and just refuse to tour.

Although, ahh -- maybe I should release an album, first. And finish a Dissertation before that. ;)


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Strange convergence of topics

I have a dead sister; she died when she was around 23. (As I’ve probably mentioned, I’m bad with names and dates -- but I think it was 23. Fell off a balcony, at a party. December, 1998?) Usually, this topic doesn’t come up, and when it does, I’m never quite sure how to address it. But it typically comes up in the “how many siblings do you have” conversations.

The weird thing is that the last few days, it’s come up with peculiar regularity.

On Friday, everyone at work was a little more ‘’talky’’ than usual. One person was talking about cross-national adoptions, so I mentioned my sister (we adopted her from Korea when she was five). And the conversation eventually came around to “and how’s she doing now?” My response: “Um -- she’s dead.”

Then, about a half hour later, I was talking with a different co-worker -- pregnant -- about a good number of kids to have. Both of us have siblings, and think it’s good to have sibs. And, this led to questions about how close we are to each sib. I said that when we were younger, I was probably closest to the older of my two sisters, whereas my younger brother was closer to the youngest sister. “And are they still close?” was the question. “Um, not really -- because she’s dead.”

And then another co-worker comes in, and someone we get on a related topic, and I have to ‘fess up -- again -- that I have a dead sister.

Surprisingly, it’s not the conversation-stopper that you might think. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly matter-of-fact about it: at this point I’m used to it, although I still don’t like it. (‘’It’’, of course, refers to her being dead.) And people tend to respond in a standard way, as do I: ‘’Oh, I’m so sorry...’’ ‘’Thanks. It was pretty nasty. But... [shrug, with resigned ‘’what can you do’’ expression on face]’’

Then, today, The Lady and I were at a get-together of her co-workers, and I was talking to the wife of one of the co-workers. They were considering an overseas adoption, and because she has a psychology background, we were talking about the impacts of adopting at various ages, in terms of bonding, child development, etc. I offered that we adopted my youngest sister when she was five, and before that she was raised in orphanages and foster homes, where she didn’t receive a lot of cognitive stimulation. And probably because of that, she always had a low-level, diffuse learning disability, and therefore didn’t do too well in school. “And how’s she doing now?”

And, finally, my Dissertation is about family influences on delinquency, so I’m reading various books about the family. I recently found a journal article about sibling dynamics that really fits with the key point I’m trying to make: that although ‘’family’’ research tends to focus on the parents, and the parent-child relationship, that siblings are a really important sub-system of the family. And one of the sections in that article is “Mourning and Loss: The Departure of Siblings.” Ayeah.

This is probably where I get my darker side from. Not cynical -- just darker.

Folks -- don’t try this one at home. It sucks.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Warmer weather

Lady out and about w/ Bub; Ralphie, TG and myself at home. I’m writing on my Dissertation.

12:45 in the afternoon, and so far is 87.6 degrees F, inside house; 61% humidity inside house. Summer’s starting. Time to set up some fans.

Of course, this is after two days of fairly constant rain; very Seattle-like; lovely! :)

(1:50pm, 86.4 F, due to kicking in the fans)


Friday, October 21, 2005

Two updates

Two updates:

(1) Bubby fine, been fine for a few days; and

(2) Aaccepted the job, get to fly down to the Australian capitol for a week of training.

Ayep! ;)


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Spooky weirdness

Just received a departmental e-mail that one of the professors from my wife's department (we both work at a university) died. The nasty bit is that he'd been feeling poorly, so he'd requested two weeks of leave. About a week and a half into his leave, various people wondered why he wasn't returning his phone calls or e-mails, so one of the other professors drove out to his house. The windows were all wide open, and he could smell the stench from outside -- so he called the cops.

Apparently, he'd simply collapsed on the floor, and died. It's not clear yet whether he'd died immediately (e.g. a heart attack), or passed out, but -- because he lives alone -- gone without assistance and died hours or days later. But he'd been there long enough to start decomposing. Ironically, he taught forensic archeology -- ironic because forensics will tell how he died and how long it had been.

The police interviewed the neighbors, who said they'd noticed the smell, but thought it was a dead possum somewhere.

Fairly young -- around 55, IIRC -- and twice-divorced. His younger batch of kids are around eight or ten years old: that stinks.

As my wife pointed out, the really sad thing is that his social ties were weak enough that no one immediately noticed his absence -- at least, not enough to check in.

And on a more pragmatic level, he has about eight graduate students that he's the key advisor on their Ph.D. dissertation, and no one else in the department does his type of work. (Chemical-type analyses of artifacts: carbon-dating, DNA analysis, that sort of thing.) Plus several grants and projects that are partly-finished: someone will have to contact all the funding agencies and ask what they want done.

Eesh. Nasty, weird stuff.

Weird for my wife and myself, as she'd guest-lectured a few times for his class, and I'd had a few conversations with him in the hall (I'm from Seattle, he's from Vancouver, B.C. [IIRC]). I have one of his U.S.-->Aussie voltage converters that he gave me a few months ago (he had an extra).


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

If they offer you a job, they probably like you

Had a meeting with my supervisors, plus others, this morning. After the meeting, my bosses asked to me stay behind. Uh oh.

Turns out they wanted to offer (or semi-offer? gauge my interest?) me an additional position. Curently I'm four days a week as a Research Assistant: basically, I do most of the legwork and the ''do-ing'', but bounce things off the Principal Investigators (my bosses), plus have them revise the drafts of project reports that I write.

Turns out there's a Data Archivist position that's opening up, for two days a week. It's within the research center I work at, but funded through some federal grant. Basically, it's a combination of webmaster and librarian of data: maintain an online repository of social (and eventually, spacial/geographical) data sets that people can download (plus the documentation!) to use for Dissertations, research projects, etc. It'll be a mirror of the national archive currently hosted at the Federal capital (ACT/Canberra).

It's a fairly new position. A very nice lady down the hall (Melanie) had been doing it for a month or two, although my understanding is that not much has happened yet. And she had to give it up in favor of a full-time, three-year position -- as until now she's cobbled together a rolling series of part-time jobs.

I like keeping track of things; I like social science data; and I like computer stuff. So, it sounds like a fun sort of job that would suit me well.

One potential downside is that I would be two days a week data person, three days a week researcher -- and that the Data Archivist role would potentially expand, thus squeezing out my research-person activities. Their solution to this was that if the duties expand beyond two days a week, I could job-share with another Data Archivist -- or they could get me an assistant! (Woo hoo! Power!!!) If I got an assistant, it would be an I.T.-ish person, such that our skills and backgrounds would compliment each other.

My other concern is that I really need to wrap up my Dissertation by the end of the year -- and that expanding my workload to four days a week would be a bad idea. Their response was that my adopting the new position could probably hold off until the end of the year.

Hm! So, it sounds pretty good. The only remaining considerations is that they don't want to train me up, then have me leave after a few months. I told them that (so far!) I'm enjoying the job, and I don't see myself trying to shop around and ''upgrade'' just for an extra thousand bucks a year. And that I like working on the same campus as my wife. Eventually, I'd like a professor-type position, but I don't see the Sociology or Criminology programs here having any openings in the near future. So: ''bird in the hand...''

I'll have to talk it over with The Lady -- but I'm leaning towards it. Funny thing is when Melanie told me a few weeks ago that she was leaving for the other job, and should she suggest my name, I said ''nah.'' Funny how minds can change. :)


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Handy MS Word shortcuts

I've had this floating around since 8/20/05, meaning to post it.

MS Word Shortcuts

Shift-F3 = change case (cycles thru the optoins)
Cntrl-“=” = subscript
Cntrl-“+” = superscript [supposedly cntrl-shift-“+”]

Cntrl-t = hanging indent
Cntrl-e = center
Cntrl-1 = SS
Cntrl-2 = DS
Cntrl-5 = 1.5 spacing

Shift-F4 = repeat “find”

Cntrl-shift-“*” = show nonprinting characters (e.g. printing, spaces)
Shift-F1 = review text formatting

Cntrl-F4 = close document


Monday, October 17, 2005

Eating an elephant

Writing a dissertation is like eating an elephant: you just have to take it one bite at a time.

Except that, after a few years of eating nothing but elephant, you get a bit tired of elephant. And you really want to have some pizza, but you know that you have all this elephant to finish. So you try really hard to stick to the elephant, and feel guilty when you succumb and eat a pizza here and there, just to get the taste of elephant out of your mouth. Except for birthdays and anniversaries and holidays, where you justify not eating any elephant that day because, hey! it’s my birthday/anniversary/a holiday!

And by now, the elephant’s been lying around for several months, so it’s a lot less appetizing than when you started...


Sunday, October 16, 2005

A visit to Icky-Uh

As I may -- or may not -- have mentioned, my family has a habit of tweaking corporate names. Just our minor form of rebellion, I suppose. (Or pathetic attempts at wit? You decide.) So, we tend to pronounce Ikea as ''Icky-Uh.''

The Lady decided that since The Bub is now in a climbing stage -- she can stand by herself for a few seconds at a time, and can crawl up onto some chairs and sofas (depending on the height) -- that it'd be nice to get her a little kid table-and-chair set. We wandered all over the local shopping center, but surprisingly, no one sells little kid tables and chairs. Huh! You'd think the toystore, or Target, would. But, nope!

Ran into The Lady's mum and dad in the food court (or rather, they had to flag me down -- **I** didn't see 'em!). They suggested trying Ikea, since The Lady's sister had found a nice, reasonably-priced set for their kid.

So, we drove on over. We got to eat at the restaurant, where they have Swedish ''comfort foods'' for sale, plus Swedish meatballs with gravy. I asked if they had lingenberry sauce for them -- and they did!!! Ahhh! (I'm one-quarter Swedish. Good stuff.) Unfortunately, they didn't have any lingenberry juice on tap at the soda fountain (the Seattle-area Ikea does) -- but the nice lady behind the counter said they might be having it ''at the new store.'' (Hm!)

The Lady preferred wooden chairs to plastic ones -- fair enough! Likewise. Found some pre-painted red ones for (IIRC) $79 each. And a wooden table for a similar price. But also found a two chairs, one table set for (IIRC) $59 for the set. They were made out of slightly thinner pieces of wood, but still seemed sturdy enough. And they were un-finished -- we'd have to stain, paint, or varnish them ourselves. But, that'sa alright -- kinda fun! :)

WIFMD(TM), I'd like to custom-make a wooden chair for The Bub. Get a chance to try out mortise-and-tenon joints and finger joints. (Chisels R fun!)


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Comments on "Why have kids?"

I've been thinking a bit about the ''Why have kids?'' comment, posted by a reader in response to my ''vomit in the hand'' post a few entries ago.

My main response is that it's really the wrong way to look at it: The reader's comment takes the form of taking a relatively minor, negative aspect of a situation, and holding it up as the reason to not engage in that situation -- and ignoring the counter-balancing positives.


-When your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/partner is sick, you have to help them and bring them soup. So, I don't understand why people get married.

-Why have a dog? I mean, you have to feed it and walk it, and occassionally take it to the vet -- which costs money. What a nuisance.

-Why do pottery/ceramics? It makes your hands dirty. ;)

I'm still new at this ''having kids'' thing. I'm not sure exactly why people have kids, except (probably) for vague, diffuse reasons. And possibly some selfish ones. I personally think reasons like ''carrying on the family name'' are a bit short-sighted -- but that's my opinion.

What I do know is that little kids (two and younger?) haven't learned most of the politeness rules -- like how to ''fake'' liking someone. So when a kid smiles at you, it's not out politeness: she really does like you. (But conversely, it's heartbreaking when a kid doesn't smile at you, or prefers her mommy sometimes.) And when a little kid laughs, it's the sweetest sound in the world. And when a little kid climbs into your arms, nestles her face into the side of your neck, and falls asleep, it's very much a honour.

And walking around carrying a sleeping kid is one of the greatest experiences in the world. At least for the first five or ten minutes: then your back gets sore.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Dark musings

Yesterday afternoon it was warm, verging on hot. And yesterday evening it rained heavily. So, in the dark hours of the morning the windless humidity woke me, and I drifted in half-sleep.

Probably inspired by the episode of ''House'' we'd watched before going to bed -- for the first time that we can remember, a patient actually died -- but I started thinking about my experiences with death, compared to how it's portrayed on t.v.

I was lucky enough to keep all my grandparents until my late twenties (around 28?). And, except for formal funerals -- which are ritualized and sanitized -- I hadn't had any direct exposure to death. But then within a three or four year period I lost my younger sister and two grandmothers. One grandmother I saw waste away, but wan't actually there when she died; but I was there when my sister died, and visited the other grandmother's house within a half hour of her death.

Compared to t.v.:

(1) People with terminal diseases don't actually say something wise or touching, then close their eyes and die. Instead, they lose coherence; then consciousness; and then a few days later, they actually die.

(2) Extrapolating somewhat: If someone gets shot, they don't just go ''argh'' and fall down dead; it takes a while.

(3) If you touch someone you know after they've been dead for even a half hour, they're cold. Too cold. So when someone dies in surgery, and the spouse comes over and kisses them afterwards -- I'm not sure if I could do that. It's too clearly vacant -- an empty shell.

But, on a lighter note: Compared to how childbirth takes place on t.v. (and in most movies!) -- it does not just take five or ten minutes of labor and the kid pops out. And unless you get stuck in really bad traffic, you will know, loooong before the kid pops out, that labor has started. Pretty unlikely you'll have to pull the car over and deliver your own kid.

The things you think about lying awake in bed at the wrong end of whatever-o'clock in the morning.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Badge of honor

Woken up again -- around 1am this morning; and again at 2:30am, for the baby to vomit. You know you're a dad when you can say you've caught vomit with your bare hand.

The bub cried and cried after throwing up -- poor kid. But after a few minutes she was happy again.

A bit tired today -- but I wear my tiredness as a badge of honour. :)


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Another mark of fatherhood

Another mark of fatherhood: Woken up around 4:30am by a sick kid. So, now I'm tired. ;)


Inattentive IRS

There's no warm fuzzy feeling that can equal receiving a thick envelople in the mail, with ''The Infernal Revenue Service'' as the return address. Received it yesterday. Halfway afraid it was a random audit. But, no: they said they had no record of my 2003 tax return, and could I please file it, or provide them with a photocopy?

Thing is, I had received an identical letter on August 18th. I'd wrote up a cover letter, printed out my scanned copies (I scan my tax returns now, rather than photocopy), and mailed it out the next day.

Mail takes exactly a week from Brisbane to Seattle; maybe add an extra day for Pennsylvania. So, someone had more than a month to process my letter and realize ''Oh, our mistake!''

Instead, they send out an identical letter. And not even a follow-up letter; exactly the same.

So, I added an additional paragraph -- polite, but pointed! -- to my original cover letter, and printed the whole darned thing again. I'll mail it this afternoon.

It costs me AU$3.60 [US$2.70] to mail these bulgy envelopes to the U.S.: So far, I'm out AU$7.20 [US$5.40]. If they send me a third letter, I'm thinking of billing them for postage...


Monday, October 10, 2005

Further socialization

Futher socialization by the father. Yeah, I look like a dope -- but the kid looks cute!

Actually took the photo in mid-September, but hadn't got around to extracting from the digiCam.

Gabba gabba hey! :)


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Good White Stripes single

Bought the White Stripes' ''My Doorbell'' single yesterday. Three bucks -- not bad! I should buy more CD-singles. As a songwriter, I used to be against it, 'cause it makes it less likely you'll buy the whole album and hear all the rest of the songs. But now I'm realizing: sometimes the hit song is the only good song on the album. (Although not nesc. in this case.)

Played it all last night, plus today.

Impressed with the full sound they achieve on this one with just piano and drums. Also have two ''live'' tracks that aren't quite as full-sounding -- guitar plus drums. Hard to achieve without anything filling in the bass register, in my opinion. Also hard to get a driving, powerful sound without a bass.

But then, in the bands I've been in, I've been the bass player. So I'm biased that way. ;)


WIFMD -- part one million, five hundred and two

Had two more ''When I Finish My Dissertation (TM)'' thoughts today:

(1) When having an early lunch as a multi-national fast food chain represented by a clown: building a indoor playhouse for The Bub. About 2m x 2.5m, with a door, a window on each wall (but no glass; but with curtains), a kid-sized bunk (just one bed, not a double-decker), a table against the wall and three chairs, and counter with a fake sink and fake stove. Make it out of 2"x4" and plywood. Won't fit in our current place, but build it soon after our house gets built (whenever that will be!).

(2) When grocery shopping with The Lady and The Bub, with a caseload o' happy feets in my legs: buy a pair of tap-dancing shoes and wear them everywhere, teaching myself (or maybe buy a book?), going tippata-tapata, tippata-tapata as I walk everywhere. I figure: (1) if ya gots to go from ''point A'' to ''point B,'' may as wells have fun with it; and (2) if I do it [tap dancing] as part of my daily life, I'll eventually get good at it.

Checked the local classifieds for used tap shoes, just to get a sense of prices. Generally thirty to forty dollars -- but only kids' or women's sizes.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Strange hobby

It's Saturday. On evenings and weekends, some people collect stamps, or dress up zucchini, or catalog their socks.

And myself? I work on my dissertation. A few hours in the evening after dinner; a chunk of time on the weekend -- after doing household-type things I've put off for months because of the dissertation that I can't put off any longer. Plus spending a modicum of time with my family.
It's not all bad -- at least, at the moment. Things are coming together, and I'm getting interesting (to me!) results. Just chipping away.

But, quite frankly, I'd rather be recording some songs. Or making useful things out of wood. Or -- hey! -- renting the occassional DVD.

But -- someday.

My original thought was that I'd complete my final draft by the end of October (Actually, my original original thought was that I'd be done back in June...); have about a November off while my Committee read it; and re-defend in early December -- and be done by the end of the academic quarter!

But now I realize that that ain't happenin', either: this last week was inefficient (wife ill, so she wasn't able to ''buffer'' my from household duties as she had been; plus, busy week at work, had to bring things home to finish). So, I'll keep plugging away, but it looks more like I'll be a few weeks shy -- meaning that I'll defend in early(??) January.

Heesh. Dragging on.



P.S. But, I still have my health.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Found: Long-lost friend!!!

About a month ago, a co-worker from long ago tracked me down via Google, and we caught up.

Today, TG forwarded to me a comment that he figured was meant for me. Signed ''JF''? Hey!!!!

Long-lost friend, co-worker, and former roommate, from Seattle (circa 1990). Every few months I Googled her name, hoping to track her down -- but no dice! (That's the difficulty with trying to track down females: a lot of them change their surname upon marriage; a nuisance!!!)

But, how'd she know about TG's blog? Checked my primary e-mail acct for a message: nope! Work acount? Hadn't seen anything. Other account? Nope.

Oh, wait -- that old, ''Excite'' account. Ayep!!!

E-mailed back. Would be good to see what JF is up to.

Many thx to DM, friend #1 who tracked me down (and fellow worker at the movie theatre), who apparently passed on my info to JF! :)


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Dor! Gray hairs

I already knew I was going gray -- but riding the elevator up (after returning from the POD people), I saw in the mirror on the back wall that I'm going gray in my beard. Dor! Aren't I too young for that?

I guess not.

When TG and I actually get around to performing, I'll dye my gray hairs green.

I could resort to dyeing the rest of my hair -- but, nah. Can't be bothered; gotta live with what nature handed me. ;)


Visiting the POD people

On campus, connected to the bookstore, is a service called ''Print On Demand''; they photocopy packets of articles for the instructors, if the instructor decides to use a photocopied reader to supplement (or instead of) a textbook.

So, I call the people that work there ''the POD people" -- which amuses me.

You know -- like in ''The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.'' Which I haven't seen, but it's entered into the popular culture none the less.


Thx to TG for intro-ing the songs!

Thanks to Tall Guy for starting what (I presume!) will be a short series about some mp3s of ours -- just re-discovered some web links that are apparently still valid!

One less thing for me to do! ;)

Hm! Took a listen. This is an mp3 of a cassette ''master'', so it's a touch fuzzy. One of these days I'll re-record it.

Not sure if I like it or not, from a listener's perspective. Like the lyrics, but the instrumentation needs some varying -- drags a bit in the middle (IMO). But, it's fun to play. ;)


Monday, October 03, 2005

Bub & trumpet

At the moment there's no good place to set my guitars up for easy, casual noodling. And anyhow, I'm still a bit skittish of '' smash & grab'' burglaries, after having most of my guitars stolen last year. So I keep everything hidden, and/or under lock and key.

I feel guilty spending more than a few minutes per evening playing -- 'cause I should be making Dissertation revisions. But because there's no good place to keep my guitars set up, and because it takes time to set up and break down (one disadvantage of electric guitars over acoustics!), the few minutes I'd spend assembling and disassembling my gear would use up myplaying time.

My working answer -- of sorts -- is to play the trumpet. There's really only two pieces (the mouthpiece and the rest), and I can noodle around with it when I'm watching The Bub play on the living room carpet: I sit on the sofa, and she'll be playing on the floor in front of me.

Generally when I start playing, she'll crawl over and want to come up, so I pick her up and put her on my lap. She likes pushing the buttons in to make the sound change. Sometimes she grabs the "neck" of the trumpet and puts the mouthpiece in her mouth -- but of course that doesn't do anything. So she takes it out of her mouth, and pushes it towards my mouth -- and I blow on it, and she pushes the buttons some more.

I also have a used clarinet (both from my maternal grandparents, from the estate of a friend; they knew I like musical instruments, so they saved it for me and handed them over when I visited in June). I haven't had a chance yet to use the clarinet -- but after I finish my Dissertation and can turn my attention to other things waiting to be taken care of, I want to take it to a place that specializes in woodwinds, for a "tune-up"/reconditioning. I also have an accordian that I need to get tidied up: one of the keys gets jammed in the "down" position, such that I have to flick it back up to get the note to stop sounding.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bad Buddy Holly

During the two-hour break between the two focus groups, I looked around Stones Corner -- the neighborhood where the venue was located. Walked down about two blocks to the semi-new pawn shop that I've been wanting to stop by for the last two(?) months (we drive right by it on the way home from work), but haven't had time. Not a bad selection of used guitars, although it was weighted much more towards acoustic guitars compared to most pawn shops -- a 2:1 ratio, rather than 1:1 (or less). Saw an acoustic for about $150 with a nice tone -- and a 12-string acoustic with no strings and missing one tuning machine, also for around $150 -- a really good price. But, both can wait: a good price, but didn't ''call'' to me.

Stones Corner is known for it's ''designer clothing'' outlet shops -- not of interest to me. There also used to be two pawn shops there, but no more: one moved a few blocks down the road (the one I had just visited, but now in a larger shop). The other one was called Bayer's Trading Post. I'd bought a tube amp head there about a year ago -- and back in June 2000, when I was here on vacation I bought a blue single-coil fake Strat -- blue because someone painted the body and headstock with wall paint -- for AU$159 (at the time, US$97). And which was lost last year in the [stinkin'] burglary. But the owner of Bayer's Trading Post retired, and one of the employees bought out the shop and turned it into an ebay-only shop. So, IMO there's no good shops to browse through.

Anyhow, I did stumble across a very small used and surplus bookstore. Or rather, there was a moderate amount of floor space, but it was thinly stocked. They had a rack of off-brand CDs in the front, so partly out of sympathy, I bought a ''Very Best of Buddy Holly (and The Picks), Volume 2'' CD for ten bucks. Took it home, and -- blargh!!! -- ''The Picks'' decided they needed to overdub corny backing vocals on all the songs! Clutters up the mix: There's a reason the originals left ''spaces'' there!

I could take it back -- but nothing's wrong with the function of the CD.

The back says ''Made in CR'' -- is that Croatia?

The back also says ''Recordings made 1957-1959. Overdubs by The Picks made subsequently.'' Not sure what the point of the corny overdubs would be -- except perhaps for royalties purposes? Maybe it makes it a ''new'' recording, and thus makes it a ''cover'' of the original, not a re-packaging of the original songs -- and thus, cheaper royalties. Dunno.

Anyhow, kinda weird -- or rather, pointless.

But now, on my second listen-thru, I'm pretty used to it. So, not so bad. And it has a lot of his ''non-hits'', so I've been exposed to some Buddy Holly songs I wasn't aware of.

But the added vocals: still pointless.