Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Saving useful things

Recently, I e-mailed to my ''woodworking handtools'' e-mail list for suggestions on what to do with my tradesperson-quality leather gloves with the worn-out fingertips (the rest of the glove still has good leather). I received a lot of useful replies.

I don't save ''junk'' -- but I **do** save "useful stuff" and ''spare parts''. As long as everything is in clearly labeled boxes (so's you can find 'em when ya need 'em), it's o.k.

Part of this is in my upbringing: I come from a family where my mom has two rag bags: "goodrags" and "not-so-good rags". Fair dinkum.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Foolish boyfriend

The following is an amusing bit from another person's blog:( ).

...across the street, stands a 10 foot high block wall. Beneath the street light I could clearly see a man -- beer bottle in hand -- walking the top of the wall. The woman, also with a beer in her hand, stood in the middle of the street. I put the phone down and went back to bed.

An hour later I woke to a wailing siren. Again I looked out the window. The man was still on the wall, but sitting now. The girl, still in the middle of the street, was telling a police officer, "He climbed over that guys pick-up (she pointed to the SUV in my neighbor's driveway) and onto the wall, then said he wasn't coming down until I apologized for calling him an idiot."

The police officer responded dryily, "Don't apologize."


Monday, September 25, 2006

Kurt M. Landre music: My review

A few days ago, I successfully Googled Kurt M. Landre: He’s the guy, back in 1988 (my second year of college), who successfully ‘’advisor-ed’ me in the buying of my first electric guitar from a local pawn shop.

Because of him helping me, I had an electric guitar. Because I had a guitar, my cousin bought his guitar. Because we both had guitars, my Guitar Cousin and I wrote songs together. Because we wrote songs together, we started a band with my roommate (on drums), recorded our songs on 4-track, and played live. Because of that band, I joined another band later on [which also dissolved; I’ve been band-less for several years]. Because of those recordings, I self-recorded many other songs.

Thus, I’ve always considered Kurt the guy who ‘’got the whole ball rolling.’’

Because we’re on dial-up at home, I had to wait a bit until I could download his two sample MP3 files from his website. Tonight, I listened to the two Kurt songs.

“All the Noises in My Head” reminds me of mid-era R.E.M., both by the vocals (Michael Stipe’s younger brother?) and the instrumentation (mandolin). Pleasant; different than most of the stuff I’ve been listening to as of late.

The second one, “Snake in the Grass”, I liked even better than the first song. Opening riff reminded me (on the second listen, but not the first) of the Indigo Girl’s ‘’Gallileo’’ song. Good narrative; just specific enough to seem real, but loose enough to map one’s one meaning to it. The lyric that caught me as it went by was: ‘’ I remember the time I abandoned you // On a hill built up of mud and sweat and fear // I've spent many hours since then wondering // If we'd both be better men today if I hadn't left you there.’’

And, I like the tune.

My two criteria for a good song are (1) catchy tune, and (2) interesting, thoughtful, evocative, and/or witty lyrics. (And if the tune’s no good, I don’t [mentally] stick around for the lyrics.)

Conclusion: I need to buy the album.

Album, mp3s, and etc. are at

(P.S. For the recording-type folks: Around 1:45, fun bassline; around 2:00, good wailing; around 2:12 (and after, near end of the bridge), a kettledrum[?].)


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Old Roommate dream

I usually don't dream about people I actually know -- usually they're generic people, or occassionally, famous people. But, last night I had a dream featuring myself and Old Roommate.

As I think I mentioned, I was recently back in Seattle for a whirlwind one-and-a-half weeks, to help clear out my grandpa's house (he'd decided to move an assisted-living pace). The house -- which my grandpa, with the assistance of his father and father-in-law, build hiimself back before WWII -- is in the process of being sold.

In my dream, neither Old Roommate nor myself had met our partners yet. Not sure if it took place in current time, or whether it was back when we were indeed roommates. In my dream, he had just recently (a week or two?) moved into my grandparents' house, as a renter, while my grandpa decided whether to sell, or rent out, the house.

I stopped by, and proposed that he and I jointly rent the place and be roommates. It would split the rent, and there was plenty of room for both of us: Either I could have the two attic bedrooms, and he could have the two main floor bedrooms, or else we could each have a main floor bedroom and each use an attic bedroom as an office (or whatever). Plus, the basement was already set up as a workshop: handy!

He seemed amenable to the idea. While he mulled it over, I wandered around the house, seeing what my grandparents' place looked like with Old Roommate's furniture in it. I noted that some of my grandparents' furniture remained -- perhaps because my dad and his sibs hadn't had a chance to remove them, and had made keeping them there part of the rental deal.

I went through the kitchen to get to the stairs to the attic, to see if Old Roommate had put any of his furniture in the attic bedrooms. As I went up those stairs, I noticed that even though my grandma had died many years ago, the kitchen -- and the stair from the kitchen -- still smelled like her rye bread. Upstairs, the place smelled like cedar.

That's it.

Maybe some symbolism there, about regret that the family isn't keeping the house in the family. But unfortunately, everyone either lives too far out of town, or already has their own house.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Two things for your modern daughters

Two gift ideas for those of you with young daughters:

1) The ''Dora the Explorer'' DVD series: An animated series of DVDs (presumably based on a t.v. show?), with a strong female lead character. My 2yo daughter loves 'em! Unlike ''Bob the Builder'', etc., the main character is female, and clearly the leader of the group. Plus, she's bilingual (Spanish), and teaches the viewer Spanish words (plus counting, etc.). Bonus: Her best friend is a monkey (named ''Boots'', because he wears red boots).

2) The book The Practical Princess, and Other Liberated Fairy Tales: Six fun stories, with princesses, castles, dragons, and etcetera -- except that the females are smart, competent, independent, and are more likely to rescue the princes than be rescued themselves. Plus, of course, it's well-written. Probably best for gradeschool kids (boys and girls, of course). It **may** be out of print, even if your daughter is pre-literate, it might be strategic to buy a used copy ahead of time, from your favorite on-line bookseller. (Also good for adults: They're fun stories!)

BTW, Jill Sobule is -- in my opinion -- a very good songwriter person. Famous for that ''I Kissed a Girl'' song, but the whole album (and most of her other albums) have intelligent, story-telling lyrics and catchy tunes.

In my opinion.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Prediction: Steve Irwin

Thought of this last night. Went in to tell The Lady my prediction, but she'd fallen asleep in front of the t.v.

I predict that, within the next twelve months, the Australian government will issue (or at least announce) a Steve Irwin commemorative stamp.

He was **that** much of an Aussie icon. Probably Lady Di caliber, for us.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Almost a real person

Today, I received a letter saying I’m approved to be a Permanent Resident (a notch up from my previous status of being on a Partner Visa). It was granted 9/18/06 -- or, as the locals say, 18/9/06.

I'm one step closer to becoming a true-blue Aussie -- while still retaining my U.S. cizitzenship. Someday I'll get to vote in **two** national elections!!!


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Little kid developmental stages

I'm finding it really interesting watching The Kid go through all the various developmental stages, and learning how to do things that I -- as an adult -- just take for granted. Like, for example, it took her several months of trying to jump up in the air before she was actually able to do it: she'd flex her knees, then rapidly straighten them -- but apparently, not with enough force to drive her body mass upwards so that her feet left the ground. Then she developed the strength, but lacked the timing: only one foot would leave the ground. But she's finally figured it out.

The current ''thing she can't do, which I take for granted'', is spitting. We're showing her how to brush her teeth, so she has the little kid toothbrush, and she's up on her little kid stepstool at the sink. I lean over and spit in the sink (to demonstrate). Then she leans over and says ''Puh''. Nothing comes out, though.

I'm not sure how to better show her how to spit. How did **I** learn how to spit, anyhow?

For that matter, how **do** I spit? Seems like there's some component of pressing my tongue to the roof of my mouth, thus forcing the fluid outward. But, it's hard to deconstruct.

Hm: Never thought I'd write a blog entry about spitting. But, there ya go.


Snakes in the attic

While trying to get The Kid down for her nap this afternoon, I heard a strange dragging sound above us, interspersed with the occasional ''thump''. Went outside to see if there was anything on the roof -- but there wasn't.

Finally figured out that there must be a snake -- probably one of the local, somewhat large constrictors -- up in the crawl space above the ceiling. It probably got up there through one of the long gaps that connect the crawl space (above the living room and the two bedrooms) to the veranda -- probably by climbing along the open beams near the top of the veranda.

The Lady says she's heard it before, over the last few days.

To reassume those who we're hoping will come to visit us: by the time you come to visit, we'll be in the newly built house next door, and The Lady's sister will have this house. Our new house is all modern: meaning, no huge gaps for critters to enter through.

Building progress, by the way, is behind schedule. Was **supposed** to have started late August. However, city council approval look longer than the builder expected, and the builders now need an additional ''Yes, you'll get your money'' letter from the bank. So, hopefully actual construction (i.e. digging dirt, pouring concrete) will begin in early October.

Given that it's a (supposedly) three-month progress -- and that the local building industry basically shuts down over the Christmas-New Year's period -- looks like we'll be moving across in February. Too bad, as we were hoping to be moved in by the end of the calendar year -- but, hey -- what can you do?

At least moving house won't interfere with the (hopefully!) last remnants of finishing up my Dissertation: also hoped for the end of the calendar year.

I have a part-time teaching gig at the local university for Semester 1 (late February 2007), and there may be a one-year F/T position available as well (same place). I'll be in a more competitive position if I've actually **earned** my Ph.D., rather than being ''mostly done''.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Something I never thought I'd say as a dad

Something I never thought I would say as a Dad:

(With exasperation): ''Oh, take the duck out of your mouth.''

Clarification: Bath time; rubber bath duckie; for some reason, has returned to a ''putting things in her mouth'' stage.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Replacement clothes bar

(Note to the Dissertationally-concerned: I only worked on the following project during evenings. Maybe four person-hours invested, across three evenings. And this thing needed to be fixed, anyhow; household tasks don't stop for Dissertations.) ;)

Because we live in an older house (circa 1930s), there are very few built-in cupboards or closets: two in the bathroom, plus the pantry in the kitchen. That's it.

So, The Lady and I (and The Kid) each keep our clothes in free-standing wardrobes. The wardrobes were designed for an earlier time, when people had one good suit (or dress), and maybe a coat or two or one or two pairs of trousers: everything else got folded and put in drawers.

But because we live in modern times, with inexpensive mass-produced clothing (and are arguably more consumeristic, as well), we've massively overloaded the wardrobes' designed capacity. Thus, a few months ago, the small-diameter dowel [9mm; 3/8 inch] on The Lady's side broke under the weight.

I re-glued it, and re-installed it with the grain oriented vertically (maxmizes the strength). This lasted a month or two, but then it broke again.

What I needed was a replacement clothes rod that had a higher load-capacity than the original -- but which could be retro-fitted to the wardrobe without altering it (the wardrobe is on loan from The Lady's parents). And my upgrade had to be easily un-do-able, in case later owners of the wardrobe wanted to return it to its original state.

My solution was to create a shallow U-shaped bar out of a one of my salvaged pieces of wood (i.e. from my hoarded stash o' wood). The vertical dimensions are plenty thick, so it's unlikely to break. To slot it in to the same mounting as the previous dowel, I pegged it in place with a short length of dowel that fits into the existing dowel holes. And to facilitate its later removal, the rear dowel is glued into the body, but the front one is just held by friction, and wedged/pinned into the front mounting; to remove, just remove the small pins.

The design element that I'm most pleased with: the load-bearing surface (i.e. where the clothes hangers slide across) is below the axis of the dowels. This means that this replacement bar won't ever flip over, because the clothes are pulling **down**, rather than sideways. Yet, it can still flex and pivot in the mountings (i.e. the bar can hang at an angle), if a smaller-diameter clothes hanger hook needs to be used.

And, thanks to the simple boiled linseed oil finish (two coats), its appearance is fairly in keeping with the rest of the wardrobe. (The dowel is an obvious retrofit, anyhow -- maybe by The Lady's granddad.)

(Tools used: tenon saw, coping saw, drawknife [!-first time used on a legitimate project!], power drill, spade bit, popsicle stick, sandpaper.)


Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Australian Father's Day

Yesterday (Sunday) was Father's Day in here in Aussie-land.

As I probably mentioned last year, Americans have Father's Day in June -- but in Australia (and maybe other Commonwealth nations; dunno), this would clash with the Queen's Birthday (a national holiday). (It's not **really** the birthday of the queen, just like President's Day isn't the actual birthday of Washington **or** Lincoln.) So, in Australia, Father's Day is in September.

The Kid and The Lady each got me something. From the missus, received one of them nylon collapsable tool bags. You supply your own tools -- but **does** come with little helper included!

(Not the best of photos -- but the best out of three. The Kid was a bit squirmy that evening...)