Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Loads o' books

And this is why The Lady and I need a bigger house: loads o' books!!!

There's another two bookshelves to the left, plus a full one in the living room, and a waist-high one out on the veranda. Plus, several unpacked boxes.


A nominal promotion

At a staff meeting today, it was announced that since the position title of ''Research Assistant'' was misleading and under-valuing our contributions -- since we don't just ''assist'' -- we actually have a fair amont of initiative and control -- our new job title will be ''Research Officer.''

Current ''Research Officers'' will be upgraded to ''Senior Research Officers.''

No extra money, though.

Still, it'll look better on our business cards, and e-mail signature lines. :)


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Breaking out the hoarded stash

Working at home, trying to catch up on an overdue project report for a client. Adding the time to my timesheet, of course.

Broke out one of my hoarded Dr. Peppers. Can’t buy them here. Saw some 2L bottles about two years ago, but they came and went -- maybe a marketing experiment?

Brought back a six-pack of Dr. P when I visited Seattle in June. This is my second to last can. Poured over **lots** of ice, and only somewhat diluted. Luxury...


Dissertation non-progress

No dissertation progress the last few days, nor likely until after this weekend. Errands and family responsibilities, plus an overdue project report for work (several weeks behind schedule). Dissertation time becomes project report time.

Plus, The Lady has a bad back, so she hasn’t been able to shield me from household responsibilities.

Of course, since my job is doing social science research, it feels similar to working on my Dissertation; only the topic is different: administering surveys to people with intellectual disability, instead of family influences on delinquency.

Not bad - - but not Dissertation progress.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Joining the open-source community?

On of my (many!) items on my “To Do” list for When I Finish My Dissertation (TM) is to shoot some music videos for some of our songs, and maybe a few film shorts -- maybe a really bad zombie movie.

As I mentioned just a moment ago, I plan to switch over to Linux for my recording and video editing work. For video editing, I have two directions I can go:

One is to buy a video editing software package called Main Actor -- version 5.5, costs $199 (U.S.?) to download it. It’s supposed to be good, although not completely intuitive for some of the more advanced features.

The other option is to use the no-cost software called Kino. Like most Linux software, it’s produced by a team of hobbyists, doing it for the challenge, the glory, and the GeekPoints(TM).

Supposedly, MainActor has a few features that Kino does not: for example, Kino only has one audio track (or something like that), so you can’t crossfade the soundtrack between scenes. So, for a while I thought I’d use my spending power to signal my support for Linux, and purchase the software.

But today, I realized that I enjoy suggesting new features for one of the survey-structuring software packages we use at work. And these sorts of software projects are always in need of beta-testin’, bug-flaggin’, feature-suggestin’ user-type folks. And they also often need people to help with the documentation: I’m pretty good at writing instruction manuals.

Plus, it’s been a while since I’ve done video editing, and it was old school, non-software editing. Instead of plunking down two hundred bucks at the get-go, maybe I should use the free software first -- see if it fits my needs -- and go from there?



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A few thoughts about Linux

Another WIFMD(TM) task is to convert our home computing over Linux to the fullest extent possible.

Not including the old Apple computers in boxes out on the veranda, we have three PCs (two at home, one at Uni with my dissertation data on it). I’ll keep the middle-speed PC (AMD Athalon, 900MHz) as Win98, as my tried-and-true backup: has all my stuff, plus my various bits of recording software. The Lady’s PC (which I use more than she does; Pentium IV, one-point-something GHz) will become the multimedia machine: I’ll probably install a Linux distribution (version of Linux) that’s optimized for multimedia, and do my recording and video editing on it. And the (IIRC) Pentium II, 233MHz machine at school that currently hold my dissertation files will become the generic “home computer” for word processing, e-mail, web browsing and etc. For that, I’ll probably install Ubuntu, which is supposedly the most newbie-friendly version of Linux.

All of my Linux knowledge is theoretical at this point, as it’s based on reading, not actual experience. But, here’s my sense of it:

Linux is an operating system, just as Windows is an operating system and Macs have a different operating system. Although different OS’s save files in a different way, most of them can read and write to Windows formats, due to Window’s market dominance.

Most software for Linux is available free! Nifty. The reason is that it’s done by teams of hobbyists, who do it for the geekpoints. A lot of it isn’t as cutting-edge as commercially-produced stuff -- but depending on your needs, it’ll do ya just fine. For home users that just need to sort their digital photos, write things with a word processor, check e-mail, and surf the web, it’ll be more than adequate.

Linux used to be hard for non-computer folks to set up, but it’s improved by leaps and bounds over the past 2-4 years. Ubuntu Linux is one of the newer versions (there are many parallel versions), and it’s supposed to be very good.

Similar to Macs, Linux “distributions” (the bundle of software you install) tend to come with built-in software. Just like Macs have iMovie, etc., etc., and Windows comes with Notepad, Wordpad, Solitaire, Minsweeper -- Linux typically comes with several choices of office applications, e-mail and web browsing software, drawing apps, etc.

Some Linux software isn’t free of cost -- which is fine. Other Linux software is free to own and use, but companies make money off the tech support: That’s the business model. Thus, if you’re using (for example) drawing/painting/photo editing software and you’re a home user, and you get stuck, you can e-mail the e-mail discussion list, and within a few days you’ll (hopefully!) get an answer. But if you do graphics for a living, you need an answer now! So you get the software for free -- but you subscribe to any of a number of levels of tech support.

Or, there’ll be a “free” version, and an “commerical” version: one’ll be free of charge, and the other won’t.

Anyhow, I’m too ethical to illegally copy software -- and I don’t appreciate quasi-monopolies -- so I’m gonna try switching to Linux.



Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mighty bubby

For those of you not familiar with Aussie terminology, “bubby” is Aussie for “baby.”

I was putting away groceries this evening, with one arm holding The Bub on my hip, and the other arm carrying a bag, or a two litre bottle of pop. When I started carrying the pop, The Bub would grab for it and try to carry it, while making “Urrrrg! Urrrrrg!” noises of great exertion (she started doing that a day or two ago).

So, after I’d put away the rest of the groceries, I left out a 1.25L and a 2L pop bottle for her to play with. Impressive! She was lifting both of them, grunting and urghing. The 2L bottle was probably half of her weight, so it was pretty good that she got it off the ground.

She’d also roll them around the ground, flip them end over end, and shake them up. All in all, pretty cheap toys for the kid.

New parents, take note: For kids about 6mo-1.5yrs, a two-litre bottle half-filled with water makes a great plaything. A few drops of food coloring in the water are a bonus.


Changing my scent

I’m frugal, yet spendy. I’ll buy multiple electric guitars. But, only if each new one is a good deal. I hope to never spend more than... five hundred?... on a guitar. And you can find electric guitars for four or five hundred bucks with no difficulty.

I’ll buy a slushie a day, during our 2:15 “Slushie Run” at work. Yet if the slushie machine is down, I’ll refuse to buy a bottle of pop as a substitute -- because that’s fifty cents more expensive.

That’s a bit of context for me and my scent.

So, I suppose the following is another a reflection of how cheap I am. I have an almost used-up bottle of “Talc”-scented aftershave, that I’ve had for a zillion years. And I have a half-used bottle of Old Spice “original” (cinnamon-y) scented aftershave. Both of which are fine -- but for maybe the last eight(?) years, I’ve thought the “cool water”-style of men’s fragrance is the way I’d like to go. But I figured it would be wasteful to not use up the other bottles, first.

As I said: about eight years. I could’ve used ‘em up faster by slopping it on -- but that would be wasteful.

But today, I was helping The Lady with the grocery shopping, and we happened to pause in the toiletries aisle. There on the left was the men’s pit-sticks and aftershaves. And there, on the shelf: Gillette “Cool Wave” flavor. Six bucks. So on impulse, I got it: only the best for me.

And now I have three bottles of aftershave. Maybe I’ll keep one in my drawer at work. Or sprinkle some in my sock drawer. Or on the dog.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Car, drums, telephone table, Green Machine, lion

Left TG at home because I thought it’d be quick trip -- but it turned out to be longer. (Sorry, buddy!)

Went to look at the car with the stickshift. Despite the fact that I super-prefer stickshifts over automatics, it was just too shiny and intact-looking for me to feel comfortable driving it. Looked more like a “classic car” than something you’d drive around for errands and commuting. But The Lady really liked it, so we’ll be buying it. A handshake deal, will get them the money in a week or so.

After that, went to an Antique Mall (used to be a big theatre -- pretty neat!) to look for gift ideas for each other, and for The Lady’s family (they like antique-y stuff), for Christmas. Found something for my mom. Also found a kick drum and a rack tom for myself! A few cosmetic things wrong, torn drum head (they get replaced every few years anyhow), some bolts that need tightening. Asking $65 for the kick drum, $30 (marked down from $45) for the rack tom. Total was thus $95; offered $70 (with a disclaimer that I knew I was being a bit stingy). Accepted! Been there for a fair while with no offers. Yeah!!!

Also saw what The Lady called a ‘’telephone table’’: imagine a two-person wooden bench, but the left side of the bench (as you’re facing the front of it) is actually a narrow table with the top surface with the area of a telephone book. Somewhere handy to sit when you’re on the phone. It appealed to me, but didn’t know what use I’d have for it. Then, as I continued to browse, realized that it would make an excellent songwriting table: sitting at it while playing the guitar, the table (and notepad) would at my right elbow, handy for jotting down chords; the guitar neck would stick out to the left, away from the table. Went back to check the price. AU$300 -- twice what I’d be willing to pay. (And, not pay today, anyhow -- nowhere to put it at the moment.) But AU$150 -- is it worth a good-priced used electric guitar. Yeah, probably. Eventually.

Also saw a few wooden moulding planes: they shape the edges of wood, much like electric routers do today (more slowly, but not as noisily or as dangerously!). $22 each -- a reasonable price, IMO -- and negotiable. Suggested to The Lady that she could pass that on to her family, if they were stuck for gift ideas for me.

On the way back home, stopped off at the Toowong Mall, near Uni [i.e. “the University”]. (“How long is it?” “Too wong!”) Looked at the toy section in K-Mart (yep! In Australia. Multi-national corporation.) for toys for my nephew. On the way to the toy section, saw the movie “Say Anything” for ten bucks. Picked it up. Also got sidetracked by the “wheeled things you can ride” section. Had the Green Machine somewhat on sale: ninety-nine bucks for the 16” diameter wheel model; one-sixty-nine for the 20” diameter wheel. Someday, will buy the small one for The Bub, big one for me -- ride around the yard. :)

When I was a kid, there were tons of things in toy stores that I wanted -- but didn’t have the money. Now that I’m an adult, though, and could buy (most) of that stuff -- most of it no longer appeals. But I still want a Green Machine!!! Partly ‘cause it’s green; but mostly ‘cause of the weird steering mechanism -- you have two joysticks, and they make the rear wheels pivot. Neat-o!!! Looks a bit like a green and black, plastic, recumbent bicycle.

After lingering over the Green Machine, I caught up with The Lady and The Bub, in the toy aisle. The Bub had a floppy lion stuffed animal (not the Beanie Baby(TM) style). The Lady had handed it to her to see how she’d react, and she instantly bonded with it: clutched it to her chest and skrinkled up her nose in a smile. The Lady tried swapping out other stuffed animals, but The Bub kept reaching for the lion -- even started crying when it looked like we were going to permanently take it away from her; real tears. (note: Not a tantrum, and too young to be manipulating us. Poor behavior will not result in rewards.) So, we bought it for her. Marked down to five bucks; yeah, she’s worth five bucks.

The Lady named it “Lucy Lion.”


Nifty tool rack

From an e-mail message to the OldTools list I belong to.

(image at:

Neat-o!!! I need to build one for myself!

His woodworking shop is (I believe) in a spare bedroom in his house or apartment. With hand tools, you can do this; not so easy w/ table saws, etc.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Impending car

Yesterday the mechanics at the Rover repair shop phoned my wife (The Lady) to let her know the use Rover sedan we’d been waiting for had come in. Even though it’s from the mid-1970s, it supposedly in really good condition. More importantly, it’s a stickshift! (Or, as they say here, ‘’a manual gearbox.’’)

We don’t need a second car. We’re grabbing it because it’s an older Rover with a stickshift, in good repair -- and that combination doesn’t come up much.

I was raised on Studebakers, and my wife was raised on old Rovers: close enough. I like older cars; they just have a better shape than the generic, wind-tunnel-developed, computer-designed, generic-looking cars of today). And I prefer stickshifts to automatic transmissions: I prefer having the extra control over the gear ratio, and it drive me nutty when I’m trying to merge into traffic in an automatic, I floor it -- and get moosh for acceleration response. Especially with other cars closing in fast.

There’s a few downsides: No good place to put it; we’re still parking our car over across the road at Mum and Dad’s. Financially, it comes at a bad time; we’re paying a fair bit out-of-pocket for house stuff, as the home loan doesn’t kick in until we actually have a signed building contract. And considering we work on the same campus, and I’m too devoted (!!!) to finishing my Dissertation to go off on my own on weekends, we don’t need a second car at the moment.

But -- once I finish the Dissertation, hoo boy! Outings with Tall Guy! Flea markets and pawn shops! Maybe going out to see some bands! And when I’m out and about, The Lady doesn’t like to be stranded without a car. Plus, even though we work on the same campus, we’ll eventually have to stagger our work days, such that one of us does the early shift, getting off work early to pick up The Bub (or, at that stage, The Kid) from school, while the other one works the late shift, seeing The Kid off to school and then working late.

Oh yeah: And the car is supposedly ‘’almond’’ color. Not sure what that is, but I think it’s a medium-brown. But maybe that’ll be hip in a super-boring way.

We’re gonna go check out the car on Saturday. My father-in-law says that if we don’t want the car, he may take it!!! :)


Impending car

Yesterday the mechanics at the Rover repair shop phoned my wife (The Lady) to let her know the use Rover sedan we’d been waiting for had come in. Even though it’s from the mid-1970s, it supposedly in really good condition. More importantly, it’s a stickshift! (Or, as they say here, ‘’a manual gearbox.’’)

We don’t need a second car. We’re grabbing it because it’s an older Rover with a stickshift, in good repair -- and that combination don’t come up much.

I was raised on Studebakers, and my wife was raised on old Rovers: close enough. I like older cars; they just have a better shape than the generic, wind-tunnel-developed, computer-designed, generic-looking cars of today). And I prefer stickshifts to automatic transmissions: I prefer having the extra control over the gear ratio, and it drive me nutty when I’m trying to merge into traffic in an automatic, I floor it -- and get moosh for acceleration response. Especially with other cars closing in fast.

There’s a few downsides: No good place to put it; we’re still parking our car over across the road at Mum and Dad’s. Financially, it comes at a bad time; we’re paying a fair bit out-of-pocket for house stuff, as the home loan doesn’t kick in until we actually have a signed building contract. And considering we work on the same campus, and I’m too devoted (!!!) to finishing my Dissertation to go off on my own on weekends, we don’t need a second car at the moment.

But -- once I finish the Dissertation, hoo boy! Outings with Tall Guy! Flea markets and pawn shops! Maybe going out to see some bands! And when I’m out and about, The Lady doesn’t like to be stranded without a car. Plus, even though we work on the same campus, we’ll eventually have to stagger our work days, such that one of us does the early shift, getting off work early to pick up The Bub (or, at that stage, The Kid) from school, while the other one works the late shift, seeing The Kid off to school and then working late.

Oh yeah: And the car is supposedly ''almond'' color. Not sure what that is, but I think it’s a medium-brown. But maybe that’ll be hip in a super-boring way.

We’re gonna go check out the car on Saturday. My father-in-law says that if we don’t want the car, he may take it!!! :)


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Oh, yeah: Thanksgiving

This morning some co-workers and I were talking about Christmas and ''must-have'' foods. I raised the issue of Thanksgiving -- that (in my perception) T-Giving has drawn off some of the ''must-have'' foods burden away from Christmas -- whereas here in Aussie-land, they only have Christmas.

A co-workerer asked me when T-Giving is celebrated. I said, ''The last Thursday in November'' -- looked at the calendar -- and realized, ''Oh. Today.''

Easy to forget, when it's not part of the cultural landscape. Similar to the Fourth of July: When it's not a public holiday (and no sales on lawn furniture and soft drinks), it's easy to slide directly from July 3rd to July 5th without realizing that ''July 4th'' equals ''The Fourth of July!!!''

I'm a foreigner.



Useful belt

It's only been two(??) days since I added the white waterproof medical tape to my utility belt, and already I've had occassion to use it! The Lady's keychain has a LED squeeze light, but the plastic casing keeps coming apart. I used the medical tape to lash the case together.



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Update: linked the costuming photos

I finally linked the photos to the blog entry about my friend's costuming. Pretty spiff!


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Stairway dream

Sunday night -- or, given how late I went to bed, Monday morning -- I had another old house/stairway dream. There’s variations, of course, but they all revolve around a Victorian/Gothic-y house, usually that’s run-down, abandoned, and/or about to be torn down. The stairs are never the main, front staircase: they’re always the smaller, back staircase; and they’re always old-fashioned (lotsa wood!). The stairs lead to an attic, or have a secret room in the wall somewhere alongside. And they always seems strangely familiar, like (even though I know I’m dreaming) it’s modeled after a real place that I’ve been to.

This one (briefly!) had a narrow stairway going up to an attic; the partial flight right before the attic level was missing the stairs, but instead had a ill-connected plywood sheet connecting the landing where I stood to the attic level; along the wall was several shelves of books, just out of reach.

Had another one way back where the house was out in the farmlands in Fife, where I once roomed with Old Roommate. But when (in my dream) I tried to return, I couldn’t find the place, even though I knew round-about where the house was.

I think these dreams stem from a few real-life sources. For quite a while, now, I’ve always liked mysterious staircases, small, quirky rooms, and such. In one of the reading rooms at a library at the University of Washington, there’s a small spiral staircase that goes up to some former bell-tower. There was red three-story house in Everett that I’d occasionally go out of my way to drive past, back when I was single, had a crummy income, and could never afford a house. (I think I stumbled across it while taking a shortcut back from my sister’s husband’s parents.) My paternal grandparents’ house has a nifty little staircase leading to the two attic bedrooms upstairs -- similar to stairs and two small bedrooms in the Ballard house that J-Nezumi and a few other folks rented way long ago. And the sun-protective clothing place that I worked at for a few summers had a back stairway that went up to the top floor empty warehouse section, with lovely reverberation -- I used to play my acoustic guitar up there during my lunch breaks.

The funny thing is, I won’t have any of this in real life. Maybe my dreams are somehow balancing this, or compensating. The Lady and I both have always wanted a Victorian-style house -- tall and narrow, with pointy roofs and turrets and bay windows. And we ain’t gonna have it: not the local sort of architecture; wouldn’t work well in this climate (you’d roast on the top floor!); better to not have stairs just in case of mobility issues as you age; and just plain can’t afford it. So, we’re having just a plain, flat house -- on a flat concrete slab. (Not even a basement: water table’s too high, I think. Just isn’t done ‘round these parts.)

Ah well. Maybe when I’m 50 or 60, we can afford for me to build a fake lighthouse in the back yard.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Age and rebellion

My math may be off by a year or two, but: When I was twenty-two, I got my ear pierced. Mostly, it was just to open up additional possibilities for wearing green -- I still own a lot of pairs of green earrings! But, I admit, there was a hint of counter-culture-ness to it. I was finishing up my two years away from college, working one-point-five jobs and living cheap, and was about to start a hippie-ish college.

But during graduate school -- about five years later -- I drifted away from wearing the earring. The turning point was when I was taking a twice-weekly Judo class: invariably, a few minutes into class I’d realize I’d forgotten to take my earring out. Depending on my mood, I’d either run back to the locker room and dump it in my locker, or just scurry over and toss it in my shoes along the edge of the mat. Eventually, I just stopped putting it in.

Since around the same period of getting the earring, I’ve also been open to getting a tattoo. But, I couldn’t find a design that I liked well enough to permanently attach to my body: That’s what custom T-shirt printing places are for. Plus, on a very pragmatic level, (1) for the size and detail that I’d want, it’d cost a few hundred bucks -- and I’d rather buy another guitar, and (2) I didn’t trust anyone to draw it 100% the way I wanted it. Unlike getting a T-shirt designed, you can’t get a re-print if you don’t like the first attempt.

I think I’ve reached the age where I value comfort over rebellion or fashion. If I was a woman (or a cross-dresser?), I think I’d be giving up on high heels right about now.

And, I’m too cheap. One of my dad’s wiser sayings: “You can only spend money once.” Three hundred dollar pair of sneakers? I’d rather get an analog synth. Which is why I’m wearing green high-top Converse sneakers as my fashion-statement footware, not (unfortunately!) green Doc Martens. Had a green pair that I bought off a regular customer (when I worked at Hip Products) for around sixty bucks, but I finally realized they were a little tight in the toes, and passed them along to a fellow graduate student.


Imitative behavior

Last night, The Lady had a sore nose (The Bub had accidentally bonked her forehead against The Lady’s face), so I was asked to fetch her an ice pack -- those blue, flexi-squishy frozen packs. Initially wrapped it in a cloth, as it was super-cold, straight from the freezer. After a while, when it was no longer shockingly cold, The Lady took the cloth off.

The Bub was curious about it, and wanted to play with it. We were all sitting around in shorts, as even though it was evening, the temperature was still in the low-to-mid eighties (Farenheit). Because I’m a twirp, I borrowed the ice pack from The Bub, and pressed it against The Lady’s thigh -- and The Lady went ‘’Yeowp!!!’’ and jerked her leg away.

The Bub took the ice pack from me, got a big smile on her face -- and pressed it against The Lady’s leg! Who, of course, went ‘’Yeowp!!!’’ again. And started laughing. So The Bub did it again. And again. And again.

Imitative learning? Pretty sharp for a kid who doesn’t walk and doesn’t talk yet (although she does stand)!!!


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Belt gear update

The loop of the camera pouch on my belt was starting to go, so I bought a replacement. Also bought an additional pouch, just for the heck of it.

In addition to the belt contents listed previously, the new camera pouch has an extra pocket, to which I’ve added aspirin and a small mirror.

To the pouch with the green plastic calculator and the small magnifying glass, I added three wet-wipe sachets.

To the new pouch, I added a roll of waterproof white medical tape; two pairs of latex gloves; two (used) 85cm shoelaces; a long twist-tie (insulated w/ plastic); and a large paper clip.

When we actually succeed in building our house, and I can actually access our pile o’ stuff on the veranda, I’ll take one of the pouches that I currently can’t get to and add another harmonica to the belt. Currently just have the key of C; maybe do ''G''?


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Language development

The Bub says ''neh!'', and shakes her head vigorously -- but she doesn’t say any form of ''yes,'' yet.

She will, however, say ''wuff'' if prompted with questions about ''hat sound does a dog make.'' She also sometimes says ''Wuff!'' back to Ralphie when he barks. Been doing this a week or two.

Kidz R fun.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Male-pattern baldness

On my way out of the men's room (washing my hands -- which everyone should do!), I noticed in the mirror that my hairline was farther back from my eyebrows than I remembered.

Getting a bit of the male-pattern baldness. Just turned thirty-six, so I'm not sure if that's early, or not.

From the looks of things, I'll be getting it Matt Frewer-style: no thinning on top, but receding to the top of my head. Kinda cyber/punk rock, I suppose.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Snakes alive!

Just as I was wrapping up the preceding blog entry, I heard the clatter-clatter of empty cans falling off the top of a pile of boxes, out on the veranda. Went over to pick up the cans. Picked them up, while trying to figure out what had knocked them over: Had one of the boxes collapsed a bit, shifting the stack? Gust of wind?

Bent over to pick up another can -- and saw a snake right next to it, in the striking position. I exclaimed ‘’Yow!!!’’, or something equally witty, and jumped backwards. Dropped the can, too. Probably a carpet snake -- non-poisonous -- but I don’t yet know my Aussie snakes. About a metre long.

Make a quick noose-on-stick to catch it, since I didn’t want it hanging around the veranda (right next to the living room). Also put on some boots, jeans, and long-sleeved floppy shirt -- hot day, and figured my swim trunks and bare feet, legs, and torso might be a bad idea, even for a non-poisonous snake. Brought the empty recycling plastic bin (tall and narrow, on wheels) around to the front door, to drop it in to, to bring it around to Uncle Jack’s for identification.

But, by the time I did all this, it had disappeared. Which I’m not sure is a good thing -- or a bad thing.

Tall Guy was poking around in the middle block -- otherwise, I would’ve had him keep on eye on it. Bummer: wanted to shoot some digital pics.

But I tell ya -- a snake on the veranda is enough to put one’s mopey-ness into perspective. Probably a primal, brain-stem thing. ;)


''Back in school'' dreams

Working home home today, on my joyous, joyous Dissertation.

Hopefully, when I finish my Dissertation, I’ll stop having these “back in school” dreams. The problem is, even though I’m 35 (no, wait -- 36!!!) I am, in fact, in college. Essentially.

Last night was the most recent installment: I’m in college, and it’s about four weeks into the semester. I’m enrolled in three classes -- a reasonably full load -- and I’m sitting down to do my English homework. For some reason I glance at my remarkably faded class schedule printout, and realize that my English class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays -- I’d only been attending Tuesdays!!! Because that’s what I’d read off my schedule.

So, I visit the professor’s office, who hands me an armload of extra reading I missed, and a whole wad of in-class exercises and take-home exercises that I hadn’t done. And it’s all due in three days.

That’s about how I’m feeling right now. Slugging away at my Dissertation, but I’ve just realized that it’s mid-November, and I need to get a finished draft -- as ‘’finished’’ as it can be, prior to the final round of feedback -- out to my Chair by mid-December. And considering my pathetic, pathetic rate of progress over the last month, I’m just not sure if it’s gonna happen.

Hard to believe I actually thought (as of early October) that I’d get the draft to my Chair by the end of October: here it is mid-November, and (it feels!) like I still have miles to go.

But -- I’m in too deep to give up. And the process, in and of itself, isn’t too bad. It’s... just... taking... sooooo... loooooooong....

O.k. -- end of boo-hoo.


Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

As I was getting ready for bed last night, The Lady was waiting for “For Wants to Be a Millionaire” to finish, so she could watch the show that comes after. The announcer (the Australian version, so not Regis whazzizface) said next week there’d be a line-up of pregnant mothers: ‘’Mom Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Bad.

I think they should have an episode with Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, and Christopher Eccleston. It’d be ‘’Doctor Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”



Monday, November 14, 2005

Doggie paint removal tip

This ''handy tip'' from pg. 89, March 2005 “The Family Handyman [sic]” magazine reminded me of an Old Roommate blog entry from a while back.

The tip: If you get paint on the dog (or grease, sump oil): put some vegetable oil on it (if it’s semi-dried, put it on until it softens), then put flour on it. The flour will absorb the oil and paint. Then, wash dog as per usual.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Dissertation goal

I just want to be able to sleep without guilt.

(Hmm -- potential song lyric.)


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

IRS: apology due?

A while back, I blogged about the IRS sending me two identical letters -- a month or two apart -- asking me to re-send my 2003 tax return. At the time, it was just a noosy (short for ''nuisance'').

However, while I was in Cranberry, they sent me a sizeable refund check, for that year's tax return. Hoo-kay...

Now, I'm pretty sure they already paid me. But I can't swear to it. Usually I'm insanely tight on my record-keeping. But, the time the refund check would've arrived is during the period when I was moving from Seattle to Brisbane: I lived in three different places within a three-week period, and was generally shifting receipts, bills, and change-of-address forms from one box to another.

(Side note: Again, I'm usually very good with household paperwork. But one of the things I dislike about moving is that the ''usual place'' for putting things (e.g. bills to pay; incoming bank statements) dissappear, and you have to re-definine new ones. And during the transitional period, there may not be a good, designated place: these things develop as you've lived somewhere for a while.)

So, I was out two or three bucks postage -- but received a check for several hundred dollars. Fair 'nuff.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Horrible but amusing

Horrible but amusing: other person's blog entry.

Particularly timely as I had to take the morning off work, in case the lady who burglarized our house a year and a half ago actually showed up to her trial (and I was needed to testify). She'd done two no-shows, so this would be number three.

Turns out she did show up -- but the public defender decided I didn't need to testify, after all. so I came in to work. Trying to figure out what I was doing a week and a half ago. ;)


About this blog

As I've hopefully mentioned on occassion, the content of this blog is ''mostly true.'' In my Data Archiving class (last week; Cranberry) we were taught about ''de-identifying'' data -- e.g. through combining age categories, combining postcodes.

So: just 'cause I'm mildly concerned about identity theft and similar bad things, I tend to shift identifying features (e.g. specific dates of birth) around. Likewise, the whole ''Gye Greene'' pseudonym, rather than my real name.

Plus, it's all ''Batman'', y'know? :)

(The other good names, like ''Bono'' and ''Sting'' and ''Prince'' were already taken.)


Monday, November 07, 2005

Lighter side: good costuming

On the lighter side, my re-discovered Seattle friend seems to be doing well. Very creative -- both does manga-style drawings and cartoons (i.e. the Japanese style), as well as custom costuming (both for dolls and for people).

This is what Yuna, the Black Mage from Final Fantasy is supposed to look like:

(Borrowed from

And, here's what my friend's renditoion actually looks like:

On the rack

Being modelled

Excellent skills!!!

Custom designed and created. Takes her many, many hours -- and then she gets complaints from customers that don't want to pay much more than her cost of materials. Pah!


Somewhat sobering

Today's Monday, and I usually get Mondays off. But, I'm in on campus: at 2pm today, they're having the memorial service for the fellow who died at home that I blogged about a while back.

According to here (see the very final question), he was mentioned by name in both the book and the movie ''Jurassic Park'' -- pretty spiffy!!!

Note that I've intentionally not listed his name here -- no need to attract media attention due to Google searches. He worked on this one frozen neaderthal project a while back, doing DNA testing, and the fact that he died at home has led some local newspaper folks to use it as ''proof'' of a ''curse'' on that frozen neaderthal -- ''The Iceman's Curse.'' More like ''The Marlboro Man's Curse,'' IMO -- he smoked several packs a day, and sometimes had to wear an oxygen mask. But, the whole ''curse'' thing helps to sell papers. Anyhow, if any news folks phone us (or are hanging out at the memorial service), we're not to feed their frenzy.

So, all a bit sobering. But I've worn a shirt with a dragon print today, in his honor. When we'd talk in the hall, one of the topics was my admiration of his collection of ''tropcial'' shirts -- many with dragon prints.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

VERY happy birthday!!!

I've been entirely decadent and taken the whole darned weekend off, for my birthday. But consequently, it's been the nicest birthday I've had in years!

When you're a graduate student -- as I've been for around ten years -- even when you're not working, you're supposed to be working! So in the past, when it was my birthday, The Lady would take me out to lunch or dinner, and she'd give me my presents, and the rest of my family would give me my presents -- and that would be it. But in part because I'd been gone the whole week, so my schedule was already out of whack -- and partly because I haven't truly had a day off in a loooonnng time -- I just took the whole weekend off.

Due to the timings of international postages, I received birthday cards and gifts on Friday; plus I received other gifts from my in-laws all weekend as well. So Friday thru Sunday was really celebrated as my birthday. The Lady took me (and The Bub!) out to dinner. Got a CD from Tall Guy; Season four of M.A.S.H. from The Bub (when it started getting good, i.e. when B.J. and Col. Potter both arrive); the white guitar with purple and clear bits of glass glued to the front (looks like a disco ball!!!) that I found on E-bay a while back, from The Lady; Season Two of Scrubs(''Scrubs!!!!'') from my parents-in-law; Season One of Scrubs from next-door-brother-in-law and his family; and a groovy Thai two-string bowed intstrument from my sister-in-law and her family (essentially like a Chinese er-hu).

And from my parents, they deposited some money into my U.S. bank account and told The Lady to take me out to dinner (which she did) -- and any extra I should spend on myself. So, I bought a 13'' tom (for my bits-and-pieces assembled drum kit) thru the local classifieds for AU$45, and also a box of misc. tools from the classifieds for AU$20 (includes a brace [the crank component in brace-and-bit], a weird hammer (I think for shaping metal thru pounding), two nice wooden-handled cabinetmaker's screwdrivers, and a good many cold chisels.

So, I spent part of Saturday and part of Sunday running around getting the classified ads goodies; part of Sunday fighting with the grove of bamboo which is invasively trying to attack Ralphie's fenced doggie area; part of Saturday and Sunday running errands with The Lady; several segments of hanging around with The Bub; and a whole lotta time just sitting around watching my new Knight Rider, M.A.S.H., and Scrubs DVDs. I don't think I've ever watched that much t.v. in one block! (It helps if you've pre-selected the content, though -- as opposed to the ''pot luck'' of whatever comes on the air.) A lovely bonding session with The Lady, The Bub, and Tall Guy.

Oh: For the month or so before I went to Cranberry, I'd sometimes hand The Bub my harmonica from my belt, and she'd try to blow on it. Now that I've come back, I think she gets the concept. While running errands at the mall on Sunday, she was being pushed around the stroller while breathing in and out on my harmonica, grinning away. Sooooo cute!!! :)


Friday, November 04, 2005

New (backlog) posting alert!!!

Because I'm wary of posting things of an identifying nature (like ''Hey! I'm gone this week!'') on my blog, I've held on to this week's blog entries; just posted them now. New ones go back to 10/30, I think.


Back home!!!

Soooo good to be home!!! (This really poses difficulties for if I ever have to go on tour for more than just a few days. I'm bringin' my family, baby!!!) The Lady picked me up at the airport; The Bub was as Mum & Dad's place, being baby-sat (as per usual). Almost didn't recognize The Bub -- looks so much older!!! :)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Inconsiderate hotel people

So, my routine the last few days has been to get up around 8:30am; shower, etc., and get to the food place by around 9am; and meet everyone in the lobby to walk over to the training place at 9:30am.

However -- instead of sleeping until 8:30, about 8am someone (I suppose a hotel employee) started vacuuming. Couldn’t quite tell where it was from -- I think next door, but maybe out in the hall. And around the same time, someone else was mowing the lawn.

Now, I realize that ‘’normal’’ people may have to get up at six or seven -- but for those of us whose first commitment is at 9:30... Eesh.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Free lunch, bad computer

Several topics for today:


The training folks paid for lunch today; we went to the fancy-pants restaurant (upstairs from the cheap one I usually go to). I almost had the lamb, but it comes to ya still on the bone, and I don’t like having to cut the meat off the bone. So I took the pasta w/ chunks o’ chicken. (I’m sure they called it something more elegant.)

I’m fairly open to most types of foodage: nothing super spicy, and I don’t care for meringue. Other than that, I’ll eat most things -- which forms the basis of a symbiotic relationship with The Lady: she’s more particular -- so at restaurants, I get all her leftovers! That said, I have two eating oddities:

Food quirk #1: As mentioned, I don’t like having to deal with bones. I’ll eat salmon if a family member -- esp. my dad! -- cooks it, but I don’t order it at restaurants. Stakes, lamb chops, chicken legs -- nah. I’ll sometimes eat ribs -- but only because I can use my hands.

Part of this is due to my American upbringing: Aussies routinely eat with knife and fork, cutting things up into pieces. So for them, cutting the meat off the bone is no extra cutting. But for most Yanks, we just cut stuff with the edge of our fork. So I usually can’t be bothered to pick up a knife: extra effort for little gain.

(In Aussie-land, a lot of cutlery sets include a ‘’splade’’ -- a fork with a slightly wider tine on one side, to facilitate cutting through things. Didn’t catch on in the U.S., probably ‘cause we already cut our food with a fork: no need for an extra tool.)

Food quirk #2: I water down my soft drinks. (Did I already blog about this? Sounds familiar.) 50-50 if I’m feeling bold; one-fourth to one-sixth full strength for normal drinking. As I probably mentioned, not as sticky-sweet, less bubbles, less phosphoric acid (for cola drinks), and (as they say here), ‘’cheap as chips!!!’’ A two litre bottle lasts me about two months -- and that’s having a drink or two an evening, and several on weekends.


On my way to breakfast, stopped by the little library room to check e-mail at the computer terminal. Wouldn’t connect to the internet. Stopped by the check-in desk to report it. Manager-type lady said they’d get someone to look at it; assistant guy standing next to her said, ‘’Oh, yeah -- I noticed that this morning.’’ (Der! Maybe -- report it to your supervisor???)

Stop by after my training session finished for the day to try again before dinner. Still not connecting. Inquire at front desk. ‘’Oh, we need to send out for someone.’’ Apparently, they don’t have their own I.T. person, and they’re not part of any Department or School within the university. Felt bad for them: clearly, they can’t get timely help for their own, internal computer problems. But also a bit annoyed that I can’t check e-mail this evening. Plus, I finally figured out how to log in to view my recently re-discovered friend’s blog entries, so I’ve popped backwards a few months to read thru them. Was hoping to read a few more entries tonight.

But, can’t. Pah.

Missing my wife and child terribly. The Lady phones every evening, but The Bub is pre-phone. The other people taking the training course with me are nice folks, but I don’t really want to hang out with them during the evening. Plus, have the ol’ Dissertation to work on...

That said, had dinner with a Uni friend of The Lady’s. Went to a Turkish restaurant; good food. Actually ordered a complete other meal for takeaway, to stuff in my ‘fridge. I’m used to having dinner around 8-9pm, so having dinner around 7pm (as dictated by the operating hours of the cafe here) leaves me hungry by 10pm. Better to snack on ‘’real’’ food than on orange-coated corn chips.


Nice lady leading the training sessions agreed to get me a USB keyboard, so that I wouldn’t have to struggle with the dinky, closely-spaced keyboard that’s part of the laptop. The I.T. people from her Centre didn’t have any extras, so she gave me hers from her computer in her office, and plugged a PS/2 version in, instead. I’ve used it to type this blog, and it’s muuuuch easier. Faster typing -- and way fewer typos! :)


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Suspect breakfast system

So, I actually wake up at a reasonable time, and mosey down to get my ‘’FULL HOT BREAKFAST’’, as it says on the voucher. I walk up to the reception desk, and the Very Busy Lady who’s bustling about, picking up used dishes and bringing them back to the kitchen, says (gesturing) ‘’Take a seat at any one of these tables.’’ So I do.

After a few minutes of watching her continue to bustle, and realizing that there’s no other dining room staff, I leave my coat at the table and intercept her bustling to ask, ‘’Umm -- should I just help myself?’’ (pointing at the buffet-style table; I figured maybe if you have a voucher, they actually take your order). She confirms this; more bustling. (Hm! Maybe she’d have to take less trips if she used a tray or a cart and cleared the tables all at once -- instead of taking only a handful at a time -- sometimes making two or three trips to clear just one table.) So, I mosey over to the buffet tables.

There’s a table with do-it-yourself toast (i.e. sliced bread; and a toaster), plus minor pastries. There’s another table with four types of juice, in glass pitchers; a glass jug o’ milk; cubed melons; plus some misc. cold things. And, near that is a countertop with several types of cold cereal, and another jug o’ milk (whole milk this time, rather than low-fat). I take one of the pastries and get some cereal, and bring it to my table. Then I go back for a glass of milk (for pouring onto the cereal), and a glass of mystery juice (no labels, but it wasn’t the apple juice or the orange juice).

I’m about to sit down and start eating, when I realize that even though my work is paying for this, the voucher did say I’m supposed to get a hot breakfast. So I catch up with the Very Busy Lady again, and ask about the ‘’hot breakfast’’ angle. She points out a table that’s further in to the restaurant; behind a row of potted plants along a waist-high room divider; and partially blocked from view by a pillar. Hm! Part of a plot to keep people away from the hot food? Or just poor planning? I mosey over.

Three steam trays on stands, each with two compartments. Kidney beans (an Aussie/New England thing?) and breakfast sausages in the first; bacon and plain scrambled eggs (no bits o’ onion...) in the second; and flat triangle-ish hash browns plus grilled tomato (an Aussie breakfast thing) in the third. I took a slice of bacon, a scoop of scrambled eggs, and a hash brown shape.

Bacon was fine; not too greasy. Scrambled eggs were damp (steamer?) and plain, so I sprinkled Tobasco sauce on it; hash brown was lacking, but couldn’t identify why.

LATTER ADDENDUM: By lunch time was starving. Funny, since that’s more than I usually have for B-fast.