Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Another update entry

I have access to the internet again, so here's another mass update on my life. :)

Preface: A guy down the road charges very reasonable rates for doing clearing, digging holes, etc., with his backhoe/bulldozer and dumptruck. I refer to him as ''Scoopy Guy'', which is how the rest of The Lady's family now refers to him as well.

Today is Friday.

On Tuesday of this week, the Scoopy Guy down the road was scheduled to come by and demolish the Old Homestead, the two-bedroom cabin (formerly a chicken coop) that my wife lived in during the first year or two of her life. For sentimental reasons, I wanted to pry up the floorboards -- at least, the ones that weren't rotten from a leaky roof and piles of soggy junk on the floor. Saturday and Sunday I spent sorting through the miscellanea in the two rooms, saving the good stuff and moving it to a safe location, and tossing the junk out the end window. By late afternoon Sunday the floor was cleared enough that I could start prying up the floorboards.

Wasn't sure how easy or hard it would be, but -- proof of concept -- I managed to do five or six before it got dark. Averaged around seven minutes per floorboard.

Sunday night, realized I'd caught a stomach bug. Stayed up until about 1 a.m., nauseous. Very minor vomitage (one dry heave, then one serving spoon full), and felt somewhat better.

Had originally intended to get an early start on Monday on the floorboards, but upon waking up, decided I could do with a lie-in. Dozed until about 10:30am, then got up and got dressed. By the time I was over next door, it was around 11:30, and I was moving at about three-quarters speed -- **not** feeling well, but not horrible enough that I could go back to bed, given that I had a deadline: Anything not salvaged by Tuesday morning would be demolished by the Scoopy Guy and sent to the tip. ((For the Yanks: ''the dump''.)) Could have asked next-door BrotherDave to help, but I didn't feel quite horrible enough to ask for help. Besides, he was already involved in his own around-the-house project, adding a covered area to the front and side of his storage shed.

Managed to slog thru the day, driving the pry bar with the eight-pound hammer, over and over. Picked up The Kid from Mum (across the road) around 4:30pm. (Later, Mum told my wife that I'd looked unwell -- very ''one foot in front of the other''.)

Finished half of the front room, and the center one-third of the back room. Still had two-thirds of the back room to go, plus the remaining non-rotten one-fourth of the front room. Knew I'd have to get up bright and early to finish in time.

Tried going to bed early, but The Kid was squirrelly, kept me up. The next morning (Tuesday), got up at 5:30 a.m., before the sun. By the time I had my oatmeal -- actually felt like eating!!! -- and suited up, it was around 6:30 a.m. and had already been light for a little bit. Dang!

Scoopy guy showed up earlier than he'd suggested -- about 7:45am -- and I was still trying to pry up the last 20% or so. He cleared another area, and made two trips to the dump, each trip keeping him away for maybe a half hour (I kept forgetting to time it).

Wednesday, I put away some of my lumber that I'd salvaged.

Thursday, spent the whole day doing marking ((for the Yanks: ''grading term papers and final exams'').

Today (Friday), in at Uni, finishing up marking and submitting final grades.

Saturday there's a independently owned drum shop holding their grand opening at a nearby shopping plaza. There's a few Drummer's Warehouse branches on the other side of Brisbane, but over here on the east side there ain't nuthin'. Free pizza.

I forget the name of the place, but supposedly the're going to carry new **and** used gear. (Bargains...?) And probably a good place to post ''drummer wanted'' signs, when I'm finally in a position to resume fishing for bandmates. (Bought a ''White Stripes'' documentary DVD for five bucks. Inspired me that I could get by -- at least short-term -- with just a drummer. **Could** go the drum machine route [a la Sisters of Mercy], but I'm not sure if I still have the patience to program a drum machine... at the level of complexity that I'd require.)

Now that the old sheds (cabins; whatever...) have been knocked down, it's much easier to envision our house being built in that location. Looking forward to the house being built -- so we can **finally** unpack all our boxes of books and video tapes -- and my music gear -- and I'll have room to set up, and (hopefully) start recording again. And start planting trees and shrubs, and building permanent structures like a woodshed for me, and a potting shed for The Lady. And some sort of playground/climbing structure for The Kid.

And maybe a hut for Tall Guy? ;)



Monday, June 19, 2006

Misc. things

I temporarily have access to the web, so I'm tossing up a brief update as to what I've been up to.

Family: The Lady and The Bub are well. Ralphie's fine. Tall Guy is fine. I'm fine. My in-laws here in Brisbane are fine, and my folks 'n' sibs (and spouses 'n' kid) are all fine. Ayep!

Computers: For a while, was fiddling with Linux during the evenings, but have given that up for now. The big difficulty with Linux seems to be modem compatibility: Most modems only have Windows drivers, and they don't provide Linux programmers with enough info to write their own drivers. I bought a modem that was **supposedly** modem-compatible, but three Linux distributions so far have not wanted to recognize it. I could spend AU$60 (IIRC) on buying a driver from a ''Linux Drivers R Us'' place on the web. I may, yet. For security reasons, I'm being subborn about only wanting to link to the web from home via Linux.

Woodworking: Nothing much -- although I **did** score an off-brand portable workbench (the original, Black & Decker ''Workmate'', pictured at left). The local Big W (kinda Fred Myers, Target-ish) had a few tables out in front of the store with discontinued items: sheets and towels with outdated patterns; toys with dead batteries; car seat covers and car-smelly danglies...

The portable workbench was apparently their floor model. Orginally AU$88, marked down to AU$50 (about US$38). I'll describe it more in another post (which I'll pre-date to a few weeks ago). It folds flat, and I haven't had a chance to use it yet. But, t'was a varra good price.

Ph.D. Dissertation: Mild progress, but mostly have been running errands regarding getting the house built; see below.

House building: Have been running errands in support of the house getting built (e.g. choosing brick colors and colors for the bathroom/kitchen/laundry room tiles), during the day. The last week has been spent doing various sorts of land-clearing things. We have two sheds (one's a small hut; the other is a two room cabin, formerly a chicken coop) that need to be knocked down by the end of June.

Friday morning a very large metal bin (a ''skip'', in Aussie-speak) showed up: about the lengths and width of a schoolbus, and mid-chest high (for me). This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) BrotherDave (my next-door brother in law) and I went through the two sheds and tossed The Lady's late granddad's collection of scavenged junk metal into the skip, plus some white goods (old 'fridge, old washing machine, two dead microwaves...).

Most of the metal ended up being rusty, almost-falling apart bits, as BrotherDave saved most of the bulkier, solid items, for himself. (You never know when an large chunk of metal might be needed...) So, the skip won't weigh as much as if we had actually filled it with the three or four rear axles, brake drums, and all the other stuff we found. That's fine, as I'm not recycling the metal for the money (AU$50/ton! Woo-hoo!!!), but just so it gets productively used, rather than terminating in a landfill. Still, between the two-rusty-to-use sheets of metal roofing, all the old appliances, and all the rusty junk, we managed to fill the bin up to the top. Not bad!!!

((Language note: In the U.S., ''white goods'' are sheets 'n' towels; in Aussie-land, ''white goods'' are large home appliances, and ''Manchester'' is the section of the department store that sells sheets 'n' towels. Likewise, those big metal bins you see at construction sites? Referred to as ''skips'' around here.))

The smaller shed was half-collapsed. We managed to knock it completely over, and I've tossed the useable timber and sheet metal roofing off to the side. Before construction starts, I'll have to stack it somewhere. The Lady would like me to eventually build her a potting shed, using -- for sentimental reasons -- the leftover parts. (The shed was apparently one of the first places her grandparents lived.)

The shed had a dirt floor, and was used to house loads of old parts and misc. junk. I've discovered that by scratching up the dirt an inch or two down, I've turned up lots of interesting smaller parts. Among these was a ''bullnose'' porcelain electric insulator (for an electric fence; pictured at left), as well as fair number of cylindrical porcelain insulators (which I may use as drawer pulls; photo below the bullnose insulator). I'm about one-third of the way across the ''floor'' of the former shed -- had to quit due to darkness.

Down the road from is a ''scoopy guy'' who owns a bulldozer/backhoe and a dump truck. Charges AU$85/hour for his time and his machine, plus AU$120(?) a load to go to the dump: very reasonable rates. He's done a few days' work for us, knocking over non-native trees that are where the house will be built, gathering up chunks of concrete scattered across the property, and such. And, he'll be doing another day's work in the next week or so.

So, a week ago I had him in just for a quickie job: take three concrete-lined rainwater tanks, bring one over to BrotherDave's (next to his existing one), and put the other two over in our back left corner. All of them lying on their sides, with their back end towards the fence. Nice, sturdy, pre-built storage containers, to keep things out of the rain.

He and I are specializing: He's the metal guy (he's taken a welding class, and plans to buy a welder), so he's filled his two tanks with all the metal scraps we've salvaged; I'm the wood guy, so I'll have all the wood that Grand-dad saved under various sheets of corrugated tin roofing.


The storage tanks were therefore, essentially free. Took the Scoopy Guy an hour and a quarter to move all three, but he waived the charge, noting that (1) we're darned close by, (2) we've been flexible with our scheduling, allowing him to fit it in between his larger jobs, and (3) he's got a lot of work off us, and still has more work coming. Fair 'nuff. ;)

Timber (or ''lumber'' to you Yanks) is freakishly expensive here, so all this hardwood that we've found lying around is quite the treasure trove. Need to finish clearing it out of the way by the end of the month, though, so Scoopy Guy can knock down the remainig shed.

As more and more things get cleared away from the building site, it's easier to envision a house actually sitting there -- instead of all that non-native brambles.

Construction supposedly starts July 11th, and the house is supposed to be completed sometime in November. Thus, it's a bit of a two-way race which will happen first: my Dissertation or the house being built.


Kindred spirit to my belt gear?

Found this thru a link at Old Roommate's blog. A friend of his who puts his gear on a bandolier (hey! a rhyme!). Whereas I put mine on my belt (see also here and here).

I've actually since stripped back to the basics, by the way: harmonica and LED squeeze light on the left; pliers multi-tool and pedometer/clock on the right. Plus the folding scissors, small tape measure, and pens in my pocket. Feeling much more svelte as a result. ;)