Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Being a dad

This weekend, after running some errands, we were across the road at The Lady's parents. We were sitting around their family room. Or rather, The Lady and her folks were sitting around, talking; **I** was playing ''chase'' with The Kid -- a concept she'd just figured out (how to run [or actually, ''toddle''] from someone).

That evening, The Lady mentioned that her mum had said, ''GG certainly enjoys being a father, doesn't he?''

And, I guess I do. :)


Secret soap submitter

In the tea-room (what Yanks would call the ''breakroom''), there's a sink, and a dishrack -- but no soap. Because there's four(?) different Centres located on this floor, if any one group supplied dish soap, it would get used up by other folks. Thus, each Centre has their own little stash that they bring with them when the do the washing-up after a meeting.

Which is fine. But when you've made your daily PB & J sandwiches, and want to wash off your knife: no soap. And it's a pain to trek all the way back to my office just to get the ''official soap.''

Plus, it discourages proper hand-washing.

After -- what, eight months? -- of working here, I'd finally had enough. Grabbed one of our bars of soap from home; grabbed an extra takeaway container from recent Chinese food, and poked some drainage holes in the bottom; and donated a bar of soap and functional (though not pretty) soap dish to the communal sink.

And now I can actually wash my hands -- with soap!!!

Activism in action, I suppose.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Hey -- y'know what time it is?

The Lady and I have a tradition on exchanging small (<$10) gifts on Valentine's Day. This year, she gave me a green ''soft toy'' (i.e. stuffed animal) froggie with a yellow belly; when you squeeze him, he goes "ree-bip, ree-bip" three times.

I brought him in to work; he sits on top of my PC tower (next to where I put my glasses case and computer glasses/regular glasses -- depending on which ones I'm wearing at the time).

Just thought of this today: Whenever it's time for something -- going to lunch, going home, the Slushie run -- I ask my co-workers, ''Hey, you know what time it is?''

Then I squeeze the frog: ''ree-bip, ree-bip'', etc.

''It's Frog-o'clock!!!'' I exclaim, happily!

We'll see how long until they're sick of it. ;)


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Shaving experiment

I can't even claim to shave on a semi-regular basis: it's more need-based, like when I'm attending a wedding; or when it's been a week or two. You'd think that, given my age (mid-thirties), I'd have fallen into a regular shaving routine by now. And I guess I have.

Friday I decided that I'd let it go long enough, so I needed to shave. But, we left unusually early that morning -- so I thought I'd just shave at work.

Tore up my face that morning, shaving. Could've been that I was using the first out of a pack of cheap, generic disposable razors. The shaving cream was the same as what I usually used. But, it could've been a combination of the cheap razor and the cheap, generic shaving cream.

On our trip to Tasmania, I hadn't brought shaving cream, so I used hand lotion, reasoning that women often use that when shaving their legs. It worked well.

Thus, earlier tonight, I experiemted: the left side of my face got hand lotion, and the right side got shaving cream. Used the same razor as I used at work.

The result: The lotion side had one small bleeding, stinging spot; the shaving cream side had three.

But, this time it had only been two days since my last shave, rather than one week as per usual. So, although there was a slight improvement with using hand lotion instead of shaving cream, both sides were far less damaged than when I had waited a week between shaves (i.e. on Friday). So: Maybe shaving on a regular basis is the secret; maybe I'd bung up my face less if I shaved on a near-daily basis.



Saturday, February 25, 2006

Family car accident

BrotherDave, my wife's brother (as well as being my next-door neighbor) was in a car accident today. He was on his way back from coaching some sporting event or another -- he's a high school teacher -- and somehow, some way on the freeway he managed to hit the guardrail, then bounce off into the other lane (but going the same direction) and get munched by a SUV.

He doesn't remember anything between driving for a minute or two after getting on the freeway, and climbing out of the car after the accident. Obviously, he hit his head, as he has a crack in the bone under his eye socket, a stitch near his eye, and another on his forehead. Spent a few hours in the hospital while they stitched him up and ran some tests, but other than a few additional cuts and bruises, he's o.k.: 1970's Rover sedan -- good British steel.

Pretty freaky -- could've gone much worse.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Trackballs are kinder than computer mice

For all of you with computer-induced wrist problems:

Trackball, trackball, trackball. Trackball, trackball, trackball!!!

Computer mice are inherently non-ergonomic: ya gotta cock your wrist backwards to use them. With trackballs (the type that use your fingertips, not your thrumb), your forearm and back of your hand are in the same plane, thus keeping your wrist straight.

And because your hand stays put, instead of sliding around like with a mouse, your forearm can lie on the desk, thus minimizing stress on the shoulder (having to keep your forearm hovering above the desk surface).

Again: trackball, trackball, trackball. ;)

Also, if you make a pile of wrist pads about 2.5'' high in front of your keyboard, and retract the non-ergonomic ''legs'' at the back, your wrists will be flat (i.e. back of your hands in line with your forearms) as you type. As with using a trackball, it takes a little while to get used to -- but **waaay** more ergonomic. ;)


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Geek thought

A geek thought, as I sit here at lunch, rubbing my wrist between e-mails, and considering bringing in a trackball to replace my inherently non-ergonomic mouse:

There are a few one-handed computer keyboards on the market -- e.g. the frogpad (see photo), for about US$80. My wrist is sore. And last night's episode of ''House'' had a guy who lost a hand to gangrene.

The combination of these led to the question of, if some computer geek lost a hand through amputation, would she/he volunteer to have a USB cable jacked into their stump and connected to various forearm muscles, to be able to directly ''mouse''? Six muscles ought to be enough: up, down, right, left, right-click, left-click. Maybe an additional two muscles for the scroll wheel.

Cybernetics. Cool.

Although it's better just to keep your limbs and appendages, if you can.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tempted to wear more hats

Had a staff meeting today at work. They're looking for someone to coordinate/edit the semi-regular Centre newsletter. Also intersted in having someone re-organize, then maintain the Centre website.

Tempted to volunteer for both, as the newsletter thing sounds like fun (I don't mind coordinating things and chasing up people for contributing short pieces), and my ongoing development and revising of the online survey for the Australian Federal Police is giving me more experience with web design (spent the whole day mucking around with html coding, and it was a most pleasant day).

But: I realized that I only work four days a week, two of which are spent being a Data Archvist. If I was also the website guy, and the newsletter guy, I'd be very close to being a Research Officer who didn't actually do research.



Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Geek tragedy

This might be a computer geek thing -- dunno.

I came up with a really clever password for an account I had to open (for a work thing). And I can't share it with anyone!!!

Trust me: it's extremely witty.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Free education

There are two types of education: learnin' stuff, and certification. And they don't necessarily go together.

I was talking to a co-worker today about her possibly sitting in on my Survey Methods course I'll be teaching this upcoming semester: Not enrolling, just sitting in.

This caused me to ponder the underlying elements of ''education.''

Knowledge is just lying around at universitsies. You could conceivably sit in on large lectures, take notes -- maybe even ask a few questions. As long as you're not submitting assignments or taking the exams -- and thus increasing the load on grading assignments -- you're not causing any extra work for the instructor or the teaching assistants.

Even in smaller classes (say, 10-15 students), on the first day of class you could introduce yourself to the instructor and say ''I'm not on your list yet''. Which is enetirely correct. You could do the homework, or not -- your choice. (Just not turn it in; do it for the practice.) And you could do as much of the reading as actually interests you, or seems relevant to what you want to get out of the course.

Granted, because you hadn't formally enrolled in the course, you wouldn't receive any documentation that you had taken the class -- and thus, no certification. But, you would've learned stuff.

When you go to college, you're really not paying for the knowledge: you're paying for the certification. And it doesn't create any additional load on the instructor to lecture to one extra person -- it's only the grading (or as the Aussies call it, ''marking'').

Think about classes that are offered at community centers and such: "fun" classes, like yoga, beadwork, martial arts classes, conversational French -- you don't get grades, you just do it out of interst in the subject matter.

Want to learn webpage design? Buy a book for thirty bucks, and dink around with your computer. **Or**, take a course for a few hundred bucks, do all the homework assignments and term papers or class projects, and get a grade at the end that signifies ''Yes, this person understood at least X-percent of the course content.''

If people were truly intersted in a topic, and didn't care about the certification, they wouldn't need to pay thousands of bucks in tuition: all they'd need is a library card, and access to someone that knows about the topic that they can ask questions of.


Mmm -- leftover cake

There are few things nicer (at work) than having leftover chocolate in the breakroom 'fridge.

Had a last day of work (maternity leave)/baby shower/birthday thing here in the office, yesterday. Today, leftover chocolate cake. Plus some rolls, etc.

Mmm -- chocolate cake...


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cognitive development

One the the great things about being a father and a social scientist is that you get to directly observe all this great cognitive development, in the form of various milestones -- some subtle, some not.

This morning, as I was playing with The Kid, on a whim I said to her ''Hello, Daddy!'' She thought this was fairly funny: it made her laugh. Aha! Humor! The recognition of incongruity!

Just to double-check, I used the same tone of voice to address her by her own name. Just a mild smile. But calling her ''Daddy'' again made her laugh.

She's starting to point to things and name them -- albeit with lousy pronounciation: ears, nose, mouth, etc.

And, for a month or two, if you ask her "What does a doggie say?" or "What does a lion say?" (and even ''What does Ralphie say?''), she'll respond with the correct sound: either ''Rrrroar!!!'' or ''wuff.''

Cognitive stuff: spiffy!


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

One town is as good as another

O.k., we're back in Brisbane.

Although I still like Hobart -- and despite this charming picture of Mt. Wellington, taken from a local park this morning, before taking the airport shuttle to the airport -- my initial infatuation has cooled, and I've decided it's not imperitive that we move there, after all. In part, it's because although we could sell our existing land and buy something bigger here, the land would be less intersting: currently we have woods on the back half; the new land would just be plains, with long dry grass. Nah.

Also, it sounds like Hobart has some unemployment issues, and a smaller music scene. And things are slightly more expensive, because they have to ''import'' them from ''the mainland'' (i.e. the rest of Australia). (It's funny hearing the locals refer to ''the mainland''; it's like you're talking to Hawaiians.) Plus, it's unlikely we'd be able to convince the rest of The Lady's clan to come with: since moving to Aussie-land, they're my primary social network; if we moved down here I wouldn't know anyone (except The Lady and The Kid), and it takes me a fair while to meet [decent] new people.

Plus, even if I did convince everyone to move down here, everyone would have to leave behind their homes, which would be a nuisance (next-door brother-in-law's household had their house custom-built). And Next-Door Uncle probably wouldn't want to leave behind his custom workshop, which took eons to build.

And really, I tend to putter about the house (or the yard) -- so being in one town or another really wouldn't make much difference. I wouldn't spend much time downtown.

So, I'll stay put. ;)


Monday, February 13, 2006

Very cold Mt. Wellington!

Today is our last day in Hobart, before flying back to Brisbane. The Lady wanted us to visit Mt. Wellington before we left town.

Mt. Wellington isn't as tall as the mountains in Washington State, as you can actually drive to the top in about fifteen(?) minutes. But it's high enough -- and thus cold enough -- that it got snow for a while a few days ago.

(The photo may, or may not, be of Mt. Wellington. I took it on the way from the airport to our hotel, when we first arrived.)

Here's another shot, taken from when I was walking around a few days ago:

We took a tour van to the top. The Lady and I each took a few photos. I think it'd be a good setting for shooting a low-budget sci-fi or fantasy movie.

''In a fabled land, a long time ago..."

''We have miles to travel before we reach the next mountain village...''

A field of rocks: Some alien planet -- or a mystic wasteland?

Pretty spiffy!!! If I ever get around to shooting some film shorts, I'd consider flying back, just to shoot on the scenery.

The wind was pretty brisk; **major** wind-chill factor. It was fun and exciting the first few minutes; then it was just miserable. Wasn't properly dressed for it, due to what we had packed: had a denim jacket with a long-sleeve dress shirt underneath, and jeans; had my sun hat, but it has ventilation holes so it only somewhat retained my head-heat. Would've been more enjoyable with a scarf, a knit cap, and a poofier coat.

Still, a worthwhile experience, and another addition to my list of potential filming locations.

On the way down, the tour van briefly stopped in front of the Cascade Brewery (one of the major Aussie brewing companies). The Lady said I should take a photo for my brother (who brews beer). But we didn't even get out of the van -- just did a brief park, then a slow roll through the front parking lot.

Further down, we briefly stopped at a park with some historic building, or some-such. A good view of the mountain. We all got out and walked around -- briefly. Then, back into the van!

Since it was a morning trip, we got back around lunchtime. We walked around the waterfront, looking for fish & chips places. The sign on this one amused me:

''Cooked seafood'' seems un-necessarily specific -- unless other shops are serving raw sushi. But on reflection, this made sense: two of the other boats moored to this pier sold dead fish and sea creatures, super-fresh at (presumably) reasonable prices. So, this distinction made sense. But we still bought our fish & chips two or three boats down; we ate sitting on a bench on the pier.

Then we had a bit of a wander downtown. I though this was an unfortunate shop window display. Not only did the display torsos' look like Lisa Simpson, but they have a nauseated and/or brain-damaged look that really doesn't promote the clothing in a postive manner.

And them's our adventures for today. :)


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheap drum, etc.

Today we went around to more shops. At ''Kookaburra Antiques'' I picked up three books:

-Wood Turning Made Easy (Hardback, AU$6! A bargain!)

-The Complete Illustrated Tool Book (tons o' tools, with their proper use and techniques)

-Making Wooden Folk Instruments (been thinking about buying this one for years, after borrowing it from the library. From some small New York(?) press -- so funny to see it all the way over here in Aussie-land...)

We also went to the Resouce Co-Op Collectables. (They're a charity, so check 'em out!: 11 Elizabeth Street, downtown Hobart). A fun range of stuff. The Lady bought some vintage costume jewelry; I picked up a tom-tom (strange style: 7 lugs, with wingnuts) for $20, and five mis-matched drumsticks for $10. Actually, I negotiated 10% off -- so it was really AU$18 and AU$9. Dunno what I'll do with the mis-matched drumsticks...

Also got two wooden knobs, about the size of a ping-pong ball: $1 each, minus 10%.

Afterwards, we walked through the park:

On our way home, I saw an unfortunately-named store:

It's some botique-y baby clothes store, and it's an annex of the grown-up clothing store called ''Crush!'' But still an unfortunate name.

I also saw a cryptic sign painted on a building:

I don't know if it's a business name, or what -- but I'd like to use it as cover art on some future album -- much like the Sebadoh album ''Harmacy''.

When we got back to the hotel room, I discovered that the cleaning lady had played a dastardly trick on us: When we'd left in the morning, we were low on toilet paper. Apparently, the cleaning lady had removed the nearly-empty roll -- but forgotten to install a **new** roll. Thus, one of us became... trapped. Luckily, this person was able to call for assistance from her/his spouse.

Due to the fancy TP roll cover, notice the deceptive similarity between: no toilet paper roll..

...and containing a toilet paper roll! Tricky!!!

One doesn't notice -- until it's too late!

I was also intrigued -- again -- with the power-saving measures the hotel uses. So, decided to photo-document it. There's a plastic attachment on the hotel key ring.

When you enter the room, you insert it in a juncture box. Inserting it activates the room power (lights, wall outlets, t.v...); when you remove it, all the power (except to the clock radio) is cut off. Hopefully you don't have a situation where one person wants to stay in, watch some t.v., and go to bed early -- and the other person wants to take the keys and go out.

On the other hand, no wandering off and leaving the lights burning.

Of final note for this day is when, at the end of the day we all kicked off our shoes -- or rather, placed them in a tidy array under one of the tables -- I thought it looked rather artistic. Plz see below.

The big feets are mine.

More adventures tomorrow...


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Too cheap for wine

Every once in a while -- maybe once a year -- I get a hankering for red wine. Cheap red wine, just half a glass. Maybe my hankering is the result of having red wine at Communion; dunno.

One of the shops on the ground floor of the Mayfair Plaza (where we're staying) is a bottle shop; there's also three different Asian restaurants, two of which we've been alternating between for dinner. Went on down to the bottle shop, looking for a small (beer bottle-sized) bottle of fine, for maybe AU$6 (US$4.50). Unfortunately, the lady behind the counter said they didn't have any small bottles of wine. I looked around their shelves, but all the red wines were around AU$14 or up. Found their discount shelf: All were AU$10. Bah.

Since I had decided that this would be coming out of my ''spending money'', I just couldn't bring myself to spend ten bucks on a big huge bottle, of which I would only drink an eighth(?) (The Lady doesn't drink alcohol **at all**, whereas I'll have a quarter of a beer, now and again.) If it had been eight bucks, then maybe.... But ten bucks? Nah.

And I guess that's part of why I don't smoke: I'm just too darned cheap.

A note on my non-drinking of alcohol: I used to be anti-drinking; now I just figure it's not for me, but don't hold it against other people. Two reasons: (1) It's mildly bad for you; (2) I don't like the effects of alcohol. Similar to what Howard S. Becker discussed in his article ''On Becoming a Marihuana User" (for those who've had a Sociology of Deviance or Intro to Criminology class), I've just never learned to define the sensation of alcohol as pleasureable. Slight flush to the face, slight dulling of mental alertness -- those are the symptoms of a head cold, not an enjoyable state! I'd rather keep my edge, thank you. And my inhibitions are sufficiently lowered as is.

At least, that's how it works for me. YMMV.


Historic village; amazing bathroom

Today, took a tourist bus (a van, really) to the historic village of Richmond. This included the Richmond Gaol (British spelling of ''jail''), the oldest still-existing prison in Australia. Not huge -- would only house 30-50 people or so. Pretty nifty, though, in that you can walk around in all the rooms, except for the two or three that have been converted to office space for the staff. The village of Richmond is tourism-oriented, but is still a functioning village: the town constable's home (and the jail) still connects to the side of the historic jail.

The Kid had her first solo ice cream cone, here. We chose vanilla, due to its low staining potential. Quite a mess! She enjoyed it, though.

Forgot to mention: Yesterday we also visited a historic mansion that was converted to a museum . Some upper middle class guy's house. A small stable in the back; a stable-guy's room in the back, a room for the cook behind the kitchen, and a sleeping room for the nanny back behind the nursery upstairs. Like the Richmond Gaol, you could walk through 90% of the house -- which is niftier than most ''historic homes'' that I've been to in the states, where everything is behind red velvet rope, and you can only peer into the rooms from the doorway.

This is the cook's table in the kitchen. Sturdy! Notice the legs mortissed into the surface of the table, and the nice thick slab for the table surface. Excellent for kneading bread, I'm sure -- but my first thought when I saw it was ''Dang! That'd make a sturdy workbench!!!''

Sadly, I don't remember the name of the mansion, although it's somewhere along Sandy Bay Road, on the water side of the street. I bought a postcard (AU$1.50, money goes to help maintain the site), but I'm not sure offhand where I put it.

The longer we stay in this ''used-to-be-a-business'' hotel room, the more secrets I discover. For one thing, I appreciate the roomy 'fridge. Unlike most hotel room 'fridges, this one actually leaves you room for your own stuff -- not just the overpriced ''mini-bar'' contents. This one had the entire top and middle shelf empty: what you see is what we bought at the grocery store -- directly across the street! Haaaan-deee! :) (And economical!)

It's especially handy if you're travelling with a small child. We have orange juice, grapes, yogurt, and milk for the kid; Diet Coke for The Lady; and lemon squash (tangy, lemony soda pop that you can't find in The States) for me -- which I water down to about 20% of the original.

I also discovered two handy characteristics of the room's bathroom: One is that you can see the t.v. while sitting on the toilet -- handy for if you really have to go, but you're watching a public broadcasting-type station with no commerical breaks.

The other is that when you're in the shower and you leave the door open, you can carry on a conversation with someone who's lying in the second bed, watching t.v. -- thanks to the combination of a loud voice and the full-length mirror on the closet door:

(Bonus shot of The Kid running into the bathroom, wondering why Daddy is standing in the bathtub with his clothes on.)

The place is the Mayfair Plaza Hotel. I'm sure there's other places more reasonably priced, but it's still pretty unique. Oh: laundry room = yes, but swimming pool = no. FYI.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Wacky hotel room

Checked out of our hotel; dumped off our luggage at the new hotel; and, since we couldn't check in for a few hours, we walked downtown.

Went to The Bathurst Antiques Center, which has antiques plus used books. I always look through the cartoon anthology (e.g. Calvin & Hobbes), woodworking, sports/martial arts, and music/musical instruments sections. Generally, I can find something good in at least one of these -- though not always.

In this case, I bought an old UK ''Woodworker'' magazine, with an article on ''how to choose a wood-turning lathe'', for AU$3; and a 1950's-ish book caled ''The Australian Carpenter''. Since I have a preference for hand-tools, I've found that woodworking books from the 1950's and before are more handtools-oriented; newer ones dwell more on power tool techniques.

Then we returned to the hotel, and checked in. Nifty! The Lady and I suspect that the hotel room actually used to be a small business: that is, that the motel complex used to be completely office suites, but that some of them have been retrofitted to be motel rooms.

For instance, notice that some of the rooms still are businesses (both above [red writing on door], and below [photographers]:

And our room looks business-like:

From the inside, notice the interesting ''ledge'' just inside the window: perfect for a mannequin or other small display:

...and the hook above the door, for the dingle-y bell that alerts you of customers -- not to mention the whole ''window-over-the-door'' thing:

Finally, notice that the room is freakishly large! 7m x 4m (about 21 ft. x 12 ft.):

And this doesn't include a bathroom that you could roller-skate in:

Coincidentally, the size of the room (4.0m x 7.0m) is the size I'm considering for my ''wonder shed''. And the same ceiling height -- 10 ft. ceilings! -- as well. So it gave me a chance to get a feel for what a shed that size would be like. I paced around, mumbling things about ''keyboards here... punching bag there...'' The Lady thought I was a little nuts.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Humans and water

The conference ended today, so this is our last day at this hotel. From experience, it's nicer to stay at the hotel that's hosting the conference, rather than staying off-site.

But now that the conference is over, tomorrow we'll check out, and go to another hotel that's (1) slightly cheaper, and (2) about 15 mins. walk closer to the downtown area.

The Lady, The Kid, and myself all availed ourselves of the hotel pool. Very strange for me to be back in the water: haven't been in a pool or gone swimming in seven(?!) years.

Swimming creeps me out. I mean, the human body just isn't made for swimming. Dolphins and seals, for example -- fellow mammals -- are **much** more streamlined than we are, and they have way more buoyancy control. With some experimentation, I re-discovered that despite having a greater percentage body fat than ten years ago, my breathing bits (nose, mouth) don't naturally rise to the surface. Conversely, I'm not dense enough to actually get more than a foot below the surface, without a lot of effort on my part.

I just inherently distrust the medium of water. I tend to judge environments by how long you could survive in them, if forced to. For example, I'd prefer the desert to the arctic, in that you could last several days, in street clothes out in the desert, but only a few hours in the arctic (if you got wet; e.g. Jack London's short story ''To Build a Fire''). Water is even worse: Unless you have external flotation devices, as soon as you stop moving about, you're done for.

And swimming for exercise just seems like a bad idea: the idea of intentionally tiring yourself out, while out in the water. Sounds dangerous. At least with weight lifting, or taking a jog, you can just sit down -- and not have to worry about the whole ''breathing thing''.

Any activity where you have to take extra measures just to keep breathing: bad idea.

Anyhow, we all stayed at the shallow end of the pool, and The Lady and The Kid spent most of their time in the kiddie pool. The Kid seems to really enjoy the water, unlike The Lady and myself -- so maybe she'll defeat her heritage and become an Olympic-class swimmer (one Olympic sport that's well-represented by the Australians).

On a less pessimistic side, our hotel room is really well-placed, relative to the laundry room. Literally fourteen paces, and I'm there! Used an empty suitcase as a laundry basket, and washed our four days' worth of clothes: our idea was to pack light, then do laundry halfway through our trip.

Since the conference is now over, tomorrow The Lady and I can begin taking advantage of all the antique shops and used bookstores I scouted.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cafe for Old Roommie

Saw this, had to take a pic.

The more literal-minded among us would think, ''Yes, that's right.''

The reason I took this pic is that Old Roommate likes coffee houses, and [used to, at least] likes cows.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to go inside and check for t-shirts. But they'd probably be more than I'd want to spend for a joke -- not that Old Roommate's not worth $35... ;)


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hotel room

Because The Lady is an official reprentative, the hotel room is paid for (I think...). One side of the hotel looks out over the water; the other side looks at the mountain. The Lady -- wisely -- chose the water view.

After some minor searching, we found the mini-'fridge. The Kid likes opening the cupboard door and wedging herself between the 'fridge and the door.

Yesterday, as the airport shuttle van zig-zagged around, I'd jotted down the names and locations of the used bookstores, antique shops, and music instrument stores that we passed. I'd also looked 'em up in the yellow pages (yeah, they're called ''Yellow Pages'' in Aussie-land, too; dunno how universal this naming is).

Today, The Lady had meetings to attend, so I put The Kid in the stroller and walked downtown. Took about a half hour. Visited the music stores. At one, bought a ten-dollar (Australian) cheapy pair of drumsticks for The Kid to play with while I wheeled her around. Also bought a green plastic ''egg'' shaker, AU$2.20.

Found a really great used instrument store. Prices were decent, but the things I was interested in I wouldn't be able to fit into my luggage, and paying extra for excess luggage would neutralize any price saving. Still, sad: had a one-octave, stand-along bass pedal unit (like on home organs), with four different sound seettings. Two or three hundred bucks, though; too bulky **and** too much (for now).


Monday, February 06, 2006

Flying to Tasmania

The Lady will be attending a conference in Hobart, Tasmania (one of the smaller states in Australia), Monday through Thursday. None of us have actually been to Hobart before, so The Kid and myself are coming along. I'll be looking after The Kid for most of the conference days -- The Lady is some sort of delegate, and thus has to attend several importnat meetings and official functions. The exception is that if there's the occassional session that's of interest to me, The Lady will look after The Bub during that period and I'll do a ''day registration''.

Flying in to Hobart, we were struck at how ''small-time'' it is. Even though it's the capitol city of Tasmania, there are no ''tubes'' that connect the side of the airplane to the waiting area. Instead, you walk across the tarmac(?), and climb up a portable stairway -- just like in Casablanca!!!.

Also, when your luggage arrives, it doesn't come down a chute, to then slowly spin around on a carousel or conveyor belt. Insted, you just wait around behind a yellow rope in a garage-like area; the little tractor with three trailers of luggage drives up, and parks in front of the waiting passengers; and the rope is removed and everyone scrambles to grab their bags off the carts.

Not a bad thing -- pleasantly small-timey, in my opinion.

Another thing that amused me was this sign, near the luggage pick-up area:

Apparently, it's eleven bucks for adults, but five bucks per child, and/or per pen. Pretty pricey, considering I had three pens in my pocket, and another three or four in my knapsack!!!

Actually, ''pens'' is short for ''Pensioners.'' In the U.S., the sign would've said "Senior Citizens."

I spent the whole ride from the airport to the hotel thinking to myself ''I **must** move here; I **sooo** want to move here!'' The downtown area is small and spiffy, and the scenery was a mix of mountains and water that reminded me of the Pacific Northwest. The mountains were a little small, by our standards -- but at least you could see them in the distance, rather than the Brisabane-area vague rolly-ness.

The above shots are travelling from the airport to the downtown area. Not really **Seattle**-like -- but certainly it reminded me of southwest Washington State, or maybe Oregon.

Another thing that contributed to the ''Seattle-like'' vibe was the tendency to build up the sides of hills. Reminded me of being in Seattle and looking across Lake Union(?) at Queen Anne Hill.

These are some shots from outside our hotel.

The boats struck me as rather ''New England-y.'' And the overcast skies really made me feel at home. :)


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Living in a thriving ecosystem

This is from last month (January), but I kept forgetting to post it.

I apparently live in a thriving ecosystem. One of the many critters, large and small, we have about are mud wasps. At certain times of the year, they fly around looking for suitable places (warm, dry, undisturbed) to make their little mud nests and plant their eggs inside. Typical places are under the eaves, and inside The Lady's rolled-up yoga mat.

I tend to keep my shoes near the front door, where I sit down and change from my slippers to my shoes, or vice-versa. (''It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...'') After not having worn my green high-top sneakers for a while, I get them down off the shelf and was about to put them on, when I noticed...

Notice that they're in three locations: on the tongue; on the insole; and up the side. When I first noticed, I was a little creeped-out. But then I figured, ''eh.'' I was in a hurry, though, and didn't have time to mess with getting rid of them, so I wore another pair of shoes.

I was just in one shoe, not the other. It was just dirt, really, so some flexing of the canvas and they came right off, with just a little mud residue. Most of the shells were empty -- maybe this means my shoes sat there for **two** cycles of wasp; dunno. But some still had developing critters in them.

The other shoe was untouched. Maybe one shoe stinks more than the other?


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Healthy airplane travel

Old Roommate was kind enough to link back to my blog entry about flying to Seattle and back, over Christmas. I had meant to -- but apparently forgotten to -- blog about my special attire while flying.

Explanation here:

With apologies to the band ''The Offspring'': You gotta keep 'em liquidated!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brass comparison

Tried out the trumpet and the coronet side by side. Ayep -- an obvious difference in tone! Played the same notes, but the trumpet is clearer and brighter; the cornet, tubbier, more flubby.

Useful for when I'm recording: I can double the notes, to get a fuller range of sound. (In multi-track recording, ''doubling'' is a technique used to get a fuller sound: play the same series of notes, either with the same or different instrument.)

Despite the bung key, am pleased with my purchase. :)


I.T. dream

Last night (or this morning?), I dreamed that I had enrolled in a night class in computers, with the hope that I'd take a different class each semester until I had the creditials to be allowed Administrator privileges on our computers at work.

I think this dream was inspired by my having to wait a few days for our I.T. guy to install the drivers for my scanner, plus the OCR software. (Good guy, but had to work from home to care for a sick child.) I understand the need for Admin. privs. on a network -- but, c'mon! I've installed scanner software before. I know how to click ''Yes'' and ''OK''... ;)