Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not Richard and Karen

Well, the carpenters have arrived. On Friday (or was it Thursday?) and Saturday, large bundled stacks of lumber were delivered to the building site. Today, there was lots of banging and power sawing as two guys methodically cut the lumber to length, then laid it around the perimeter of the concrete slab.

Yesterday, a backhoe dug a large hole in the back yard, then put the big ol' septic tank in it, then filled the dirt back in. A fair pile o' dirt was left over, piled nearby. The back yard -- or what **will** be the back yard! -- slopes a bit, so maybe some forward-thinking workers will spread it around back there.


Possible album titles?

My dad just got back from a trip to Japan (visiting some distant relatives, plus sightseeing). Here's an e-mail he sent around a few days ago.

Went into Tokyo today and encountered these delightful examples of their use of our language....

The mall at the local train station is called BEANS.

We saw a large video screen promoting the rock group BUMP OF CHICKEN.

Walked past an eyeglass store called POKER FACE.

My very favorite was a womans sweatshirt with the slogan on the back LET YOU BECOME LEAKING FOLIAGE -- No idea what they had in mind.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Bummer possibility

As I'd mentioned earlier, I'd invited Guitar Pastor to join my non-existent band. We get along well, have overlapping musical tastes, and he has good music skills. Plus, we're about the same age and the same stage of life (married; have a young kid; between family and work, can't really take six months off to do a world tour, so would need to focus on being a local band).

Mentioned this to The Lady last night, and she pointed out that as a pastor, he's likely to get transferred to another church sooner or later -- probably ''sooner'', given his junior status.

So today, after the gig, I asked him the likelihood of him still being here six months from now. He said not very high. This is actually the time of year when they tell him Should He Stay or Should He Go, so he's waiting for the word.

Well, poo. My only music buddy in this hemisphere, and he's likely to be sent away.

But, we'll see how things turn out.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

The sweetest thing

The Lady and I are lying on our bed, reading, while The Kid has her Sunday afternoon nap between us. She's sleeping on her side, with her face towards me; I'm propped up on one elbow, reading, facing her direction.

She opens her eyes; sees me; smiles, waves, and says ''Hello'' out loud. Then she gets on her hands and knees, crawls over, and kisses me on the cheek.

I enjoy being a dad. :)


Good gig

Well, the church gig went well. On the first song, I started playing, but nothing came out of my amp! Had to diagnose the problem while the song trundled along without me. Figured it out, but by then the song was almost over. Didn't feel flustered at all, just ''Ah well...'' The guitarist and keyboardist didn't make any comment about it, so they may not have even noticed. ;)

Rest of it went well. A few minor screw-ups -- but again, probably not noticeable to people who are busy singing.

The Lady sang exquisitely, of course. She has a great voice: She was Dorothy in her high school production of ''The Wizard of Oz'', so she has the skills.

On one of the songs, I joined in on the singing, since I had -- for aesthetic reasons -- opted out of bass playing for that song. (The song needed to be light and floaty, and the bass would've ''grounded'' it too much, weighted it down.) Had fun, did pretty well [I think]. Due to the in-between key it was in (relative to my vocal range) did my tenor rather than my bass.

For the final song, we pulled out the stops and did this pretty rockin' song; partly for ease of learning (the song was introduced at the second-to-last practice), and partly for the aesthetics, I did a Ramones-y bassline: root note, all eighth-notes (except for a few change-ups at the start of the chorus). Surprised some folks, but we got applause at the end, and I got to rock back and forth while playing.

A good experience, but now I need to lock up the bass again: Playing again was good for the soul, but it's also been a diversion of my energies away from working on my Dissertation.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Good practice, good conversation

Had another good ''band practice''. This time, The Lady was able to attend, singing thru the mic. She'll help orient the congregation, providing guide vocals.

Only minor screw-ups on my part, and fairly invisible to casual listeners.

Once again, hung around with the Guitar Pastor afterwards, chatting for an hour or two. His wife also stopped by, with their little baby, who I was allowed to hold. Had that wonderful baby smell of regurgitated milk [it's probably an acquired taste; maybe you have to be a parent yourself]. :)

Previous to his wife showing up, I auditioned him, without telling him I was doing so, by seeing whether he could play the correct rhythm to two of my songs that have unusual timing; he did this successfully. So, I offered him a place in my non-existent band, telling him that the three criteria were that (1) he was able to play my stuff, (2) that we had similar musical aesthetics [which we seem to; overlapping record collection, compatible opinions on what makes a good song], and (3) that I was able to get along with him. Told him that he didn't have to accept, or decline immediately -- that he could think about it.

And, he neither accepted nor declined. So, I suppose he's thinking about it.

Mentioned this to The Lady when I got home, and she pointed out that Jr. Pastors often get shuffled around every few years. Ah; good point. Well, still good to do what one can, while one's available.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Good conversation

Had a good ''band practice'' at my church last night. Supposed to start at 7pm, but because I got home late from work (went in to Uni with The Lady to do some library work), didn't get there 'til 7:10pm. Not a problem, though, as the other two guys were setting up. I'd brought in my two microphone stands on Sunday, and last night I brought in my mini-mixer (the keyboard guy brought mics and cables), so we had the capacity for vocals as well. On Sunday, The Lady will sing, to encourage the congregation's singing.

Anyhow, knocked off around 8:30pm or 9pm (I didn't look at the time). After the keyboard guy left, the pastor/guitarist guy and I hung around by my car and talked music gear, plus misc. life trajectory things. An enjoyable conversation -- as evidenced by the fact that I suddenly realized it was getting late, checked the time, and discovered it was 10:45pm! Whoops!

I had him give The Lady a call to let her know I was heading home. (Turned out she had started to worry; sorry, sweets...)

It was really nice to have someone to talk music gear with. Like, the electric guitar that I'll hopefully be picking up for my birthday, with the humbucker and single-coil pickups in the reverse-from-traditional configuration? He understood the implication in a way that The Lady (who had listened very politely when I raved about them a few days ago) couldn't.

The only other person I can really talk music gear with is my Guitar Cousin -- but he's in the States, and for whatever reason, we tend to only talk in person (or a little bit by e-mail), rather than phoning. And anyhow, my Guitar Cousin has a different attitude towards gear than I do. He's more efficient, in that he'll price out a few comparable items, and choose the well-priced, solid one in the middle or upper-middle range -- and only one. For example, he started out with a beginner electric guitar; when he upgraded to a better one, he sold the beginner guitar, whereas I would've just kept it. And, to my knowledge, he owns **a** mike -- whereas I own a few. And I have a bunch of bottom-feeder effects processors, etc., which I collect for the different ''flavors''.

The Guitar Pastor is somewhere in the middle. Unlike myself, who plays a bunch of no-name guitars, he plays an actual Fender Stratocaster, through an actual Fender amp (although it's solid-state; someday, he'd like to upgrade to a tube amp). His guitar probably costs as much as all my electrics put together (which, I suppose, isn't saying much...). On the other hand, he still has his original guitar, and original guitar amp, over at his parents' house. And, for what it's worth, it sounds like he and I both had the same ''first amp'': A 15-Watt Gorilla GC-15, with a ''Tube Stack'' on/off switch (as opposed to the knob that other versions have).

Anyhow: **Really** good to be able to talk music gear with someone. :)


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Poor timing for vintage computer


The weekly [Saturday] classifieds in the local paper, in the ''computer stuff'' section, lists a "blueberry'' iMac (if memoryserves, 266MHz, 6GB HD, 56MB RAM), for AU$30 (about US$23) -- and it's in the neighborhood where we run most of our errands! Cheap -- **and** local!!! (Most of the nifty, well-priced stuff is on the other side of town, or out of town.)

Unfortunately, I've really maxed out the room to put it (hmm - maybe not...?), and it would be un-politic to get it (for some reason, The Lady thinks we already have too many computers as it is...).

Just plain bad timing. If only the house was already built.

(Granted, there's another one listed on the same page, for AU$60 [US$45] -- so similar bargains
**do** -- and will -- exist.)


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Better bass-ing

Except for Saturday(?) night, I've been practicing my church songs for a half hour to an hour per night. Sunday night I was feeling frustrated, as I'm **still** dropping major clinkers, for what really aren't **that** complicated basslines. Decided that if I'm not ''nearly-flawless'' by Thursday night's practice, then I'll bow out of Sunday's performance. My reasoning is that my contribution (as bass) isn't essential; and since the purpose of adding an instrument is to enhance the music, rather than detract from it, if my mistakes and glitches are going to be distracting, it's better if I just bow out.

Last night, however, I had my best practice session yet. It was helped not only by the use of my new, longer, guitar strap (green!!!) -- but also by my bothering to use a music stand, rather than laying the sheet music out on the kitchen table and playing while hunched over. Playing while properly standing let me move 'n' groove to the music; plus, when I biffed a note, I just kept going (which is what you're **supposed** to do). And, as I did in the practice before, I went through the songs sequentially, starting ''cold'' (as I'd do in a performance), running through all the songs, several times -- rather than practicing a song over and over before going to the next one, as I did in the earlier, ''learning'' stages.

I felt more ''in the groove'', standing with a proper rock star stance -- rather than hunching over a kitchen table. And I noticed, almost from the get-go, that I was actually smiling. And **that** is what it's all about. :)

On a more ''meh'' note, this morning as I walked past the entrance to the lot where our house is being built, I noticed that the right-hand gatepost was noticeably off-vertical. Clearly, some truck had nudged it when entering or leaving the property. Probably happened since this weekend, as I didn't notice it when I was taking pics of the building progress.

I'll give the site supervisor a call, and ask that it be shoved back in to position -- and that he perhaps have someone tie one o' them pink safety ribbons to it, to enhance its visibility.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Iraq vs. Vietnam casualties

What with all the comparisons of the U.S.-Iraq situation to the Vietnam war, on a whin I entered ''Iraq Vietnam casualties'' into Google.

One website -- -- said ''But a comparative analysis of U.S. casualty statistics from Iraq tells a different story. After factoring in medical, doctrinal, and technological improvements, infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966—and in some cases more lethal. Even discrete engagements, such as the battle of Hue City in 1968 and the battles for Fallujah in 2004, tell a similar tale: Today's grunts are patrolling a battlefield every bit as deadly as the crucible their fathers faced in Southeast Asia.''

Another one had this interesting chart, as shown to the left (if you click it it'll expand, and the colors correct themselves; for the full aticle, see -- )

Now, I'm in a hurry at the moment, so I only skimmed the content of the article -- the author may be making unwarrented ''corrections'' or some-such.

Still, pretty interesting.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Misc interesting about the kid

Two intersting things about The Kid, yesterday.

First: The Lady was in the laundry room in the late afternoon, and heard the sound of a plastic cereal tub hitting the floor, and raisin bran scattering everywhere. Went to investigate. No Kid; instead, the Kid had [apparently] nipped off to the living room, where she was standing next to the sofa, nonchalantly drumming on the arm.

The Lady knew it **had** to have been The Kid, since I was outside doing yardwork; and the dog is **way** too short to reach the top of the kitchen table.

We found her ''ducking and running'' interesting, since it demonstrates a social awareness -- and maybe a human tendency to run and hide when we think we're going to get in trouble. Kind of funny, as I don't think we've ever yelled at her, or punished her, for dropping things on the floor. But she knows what mistakes are, and she says ''Uh oh'' when she accidentally knocks toys over, etc. -- so, she has awareness...

Ralphie **loved** the unexpected bonus. :)

Second: Had a lot of fun with a yellow nylon rope last night. Among other things, tied a ''bowline on a bight'' [two loops] at the end of the rope, which I lifteed her up with. I then tied an additional loop, at about her chest height, so it wasn't as crucial for her to hold on (i.e. just in case her hands slipped). She **loved** it; kept wanting me to lift her up, using the rop. Could be that the takes up rock climbing when she's older. Or not.


A table, a bass speaker

Two miscellaneous photos, not really deserving of their own blog entry.

As I've mentioned, I've been practicing my bass at the church. I've taken to carrying the bass amplifier head back and forth, and leaving one 1x15" cabinet at church, and the other one at home.

Decided that since I've left it a church, I really **should** have my name marked on it. Made up a ''Gye Greene'' stencil, and did a purty stencil on the top, back, and sides of the bass cab at home (also the amp head). Then, at my last practice, also did a quickie stencil of just the top of the bass cabinet at church.

That's not a ''blur'' -- I stenciled it in hot pink ''marking spray paint'' (like surveying and construction folks use to mark sections on the ground), then shifted the stencil up and to the right slightly, then re-sprayed with fluorescent green (of course!).

Well, it looks cleaner in person... :)

This other photo referres to a ''used tools'' ad I responded to last weekend. Bought a bunch of saws for ten bucks, that had formerly belonged to the seller's dad; they also threw in a few bits and pieces they were going to just throw away. In addition, they offered me this table: They had been planning to just break off the legs and throw it in the bin [the garbage can]. She said she wasn't sure, but thought her dad had built it.

Arrrgh!!!! As a conservator of ''things made by family members'', and a packrat to boot, I couldn't let **that** happen! Wedged it in the trunk, and brought it home.

Note that the legs are painted green; the sides are painted another shade of green; and around the edge of the tabletop is painted black. The top had a piece of linoleum, which was coming off; since the tabletop is actually made of real wood, not plywood, I'll probably remove the tacks that held on the linoleum, and finish it with oil or varnish; possibly stain it green, first.

Once I've cleaned it up, I'll probably put a synthesizer on it, when we move into our new house.

The funny wooden things in front of it are two saw-horses that I rescued from collapsing sheds on our property: I include it here for a sense of scale, relative to the table. Both saw-horses need legs on the other end. Another ''rescue'' project for the future.


House progress

Finally, some photos for you.

Shot from approx-imately the same location: on the property line between The Lady's brother's place and the ''middle block'' where the house is being built, about halfway along the fence. I'm shooting towards the back right of our property.

This first shot shows that the sod has been scraped away, and that fill has been spread and compacted. I took this shot last weekend. (I have other shots, but this is enough for the moment.)

This one is from this current weekend. Big pile of dirt in the foreground is gone. You can see the water pipes sticking up; the circuit-breaker box in the back of what will be the closet of the master bedroom; and the forms set up for the pouring of the concrete slab.

Progress, progress, progress! :)


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pile o' branches

A few weekends ago, I cleared a side strip of the property, to facilitate the water folks' digging the trench for the water supply from the water mains (along the footpath) to the house.

Since then, I've been meaning to move the pile to its proper resting place (further back on our property), but one thing or another has trumped it. Today, I finally moved it. Thought I'd take a souvenier pic of the pile.

(The pile's actually larger than this: it streches out to the back, as well.) ;)

I didn't **completely** manage to remove it all. But it's now about one-third the size -- so, good progress.

The unintended advantage of waiting three(?) weeks to move the branches is that they've largely dried by now. Much less water content -- so **much** lighter! Tied ropes around the bundles, and carried like a European peasant.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Old photos of grandparents house

My dad sent around some old B&W photos of my grandpa, and his father and father-in-law (i.e. my great-grandparents) building the family home. It's a few days away from going on the market. Kind of sad to see it pass out of the family -- but all my aunts/uncles/cousins/sibs already have a house.

The pic to the left is taken from where the chicken coop (now used as lumber storage) now stands, pointing towards the road (at the time, just a gravel path -- on the chimney in the basement, my grandpa has the front-yard sign from the campaign for the city vote to have the street paved.

This shot is taken from the bottom of the driveway, towards the back fence (which **would** be at the top of that ridge). To be honest, I'm not sure who the guys are in the photo. Probably on of my great-grandpas on the left, and my grandpa on the right.

I love how even though they're on the jobsite, they're still wearing waistcoats (i.e. vests) and dress shirts. And, I like the whole black-and-white vibe.

As regular readers of my blog will remember, this is the house that my grandpa is having sold, since he's decided to go off to an assisted-living-type place.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Electric bass update

Went to a local music instrument store today: Had stopped by on Weds., but it was closed, with a ''under new management; opening Friday'' sign on the door (and butcher paper on the inside of the windows, so you couldn't see inside). So, today was their opening day. Only about 1/4 moved in -- lotsa blank wall, and boxes yet to be unpacked.

The new owner had owned the place until 2002, then sold it to some new folks -- who proceded to run a perfectly viable business into the ground. They liquidated, went into receivership -- and the original owner leased the place and re-started a new music shop.

I'm not surprised that the old place went out of business: I'd stopped by about half a year ago, looking for some ''spit balls'' -- dampened foam wads that you blow through your brass instrument (one size fits trumpets, trombones, etc.) to clean the insides. The lady behind the counter had never heard of 'em, but when I explained it to her, thought it was a clever idea. When I was browsing through the store, found 'em in the ''band instruments'' section. This means that (1) the store clerk didn't know anything about cleaning brass instruments, and (2) she wasn't aware of the products the shop carried. No wonder they went out of business...

Anyhow, I chatted with the new owner for about 45 minutes, including him helping me with my purchase. Orginally, I wanted a new patchcord because my electric bass would make crackly sounds, and occassionally cut out all together: If I'm indeed playing in church on the 29th, I need reliable equipment. And, neither of my electronic tuners were letting me tune my bass; toying with buying a new tuner.

The helpful owner/salesguy found batteries for the AU$32 [US$24]chromatic tuner (good price! and both my existing tuners are limited to the notes of the open guitar strings), but I still wasn't getting a reading. He suggested I run it through one of their amps, which I did. He then jiggled the cord, and suggested that it was the instrument jack itself, not the cord, that was the problem. (A quick visual confirmed that it was way oxidized.) Need to go to Dick Smith's for some contact cleaner.

So, after some internal debate, I put back the instrument cable and the tuner. But, I did end up buying: (1) a soft case [have just been carrying the bass back and forth ''bare'', letting it slide around in the trunk of the car]; (2) a longer [and green!] guitar strap, as the current one was uncomfortably short for me [I felt cramped]; and (3) a fresh set of strings [I've never changed these strings, inthe twelve(?) years I've owned the bass -- the G-string has visible rust.

My neice is applying for her first job (summer job; southern hemisphere and all that). I suggested that music store, as it's a ten minute drive (they live next door to us), and she plays both piano and clarinet.

With two evenings' exceptions, I've been good about practicing my church music every single night. Last night I goofed up more than usual, but that could be because I'd skipped practicing the night before.


House progress

Well, once they start, they certainly crank along!

Power pole in the front yard connected to the power mains; also (presumably) connected to the circuit breaker box in what will be the master bedroom closet.

Trench from the water mains dug, water pipe laid, and trench filled in. White PVC piping sticking up from the ground in what will soon be the bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen.

Today, the forms were laid for the pouring of the concrete slab.

And all this in just two weeks from the word ''Go''. Not bad.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Allergies and basslines

Since Friday, I've taken to setting the kitchen timer for 45 minutes, every time I begin eating a new item. Example: PBJ sandwich, set timer. Then, not eating any different item during that 45 minute window. That way, if I get an allergic reaction, I can more easily pinpoint the cause.

Just being systematic.

However, haven't paid particular notice to the things I eat when we're out and about. Like, today I was at a BBQ, and also a birthday party. Ate the weenies, potato salad, etc. -- no spacing or staggering their timing. Not completely logical, I realize; just easier to do the overkill at home, I suppose.

I still reckon it was the potatoes.

On the music front: Spent almost exactly an hour last night (Saturday), and an hour tonight, going through the sheet music for the church service two Sundays away. **Much** improved! Mostly, just had to figure out where Bb and Eb were -- plus make some stylistic choices about where to play certain notes (i.e. which octave -- jump up, or jump down?). I can tell that I'm deviating from the ''official'' basslines -- but I like how my version sounds, better. Actually getting some swing, some groove.

Tried out a few fills, but decided they were distracting to the intended mood of the songs. My style of bass playing tends to involve playing with the timing and phrasing, and how many times a note is played -- rather than adding **additional** notes in (i.e. runs and fills). (Example: The sheet music says to play a bunch of whole notes and half notes; but I tend to play the suggested note, but many times, mimicking the phrasing of the vocal line.)

If I had my music gear set up, I'd pop off a mp3'd example for ya. But, I don't; sorry.

Very much looking forwards to my next ''band practice'', on Tuesday; and really enjoying having a focus to my practicing, rather than just the noodling I've been doing as of late (when I actually **have** been practicing). Doing my spirits good. :)


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Building progress

Well, we now have a meter box on the power pole; a porta-potty; and a blue dumpster (or what the Aussies call a ''skip'').

Talked to some surveyor guys on Friday, and they figure the concrete slab will probably be laid sometime early this coming week.



Friday, October 13, 2006

Food allergy update

Made an appointment for this afternoon with our local G.P., to go visit an allergy specialist to try to pin down the source of the food allergy. I'm now a bit paranoid -- every time I feel an itch on my ear, my chin, my arm, my belly, I halfway think ''uh oh...'''

The Lady was going to compost the two remaining potatos from the cupboard, but (empiricist that I am), I washed them, peeled them, and saved the randomized peelings in one pair of zip-lock bags, and did likewise with the sliced main part of the potato. This way, can track down (if necessary) whether it was the skin, or the ''meat'', or neither.

I also saved samples of the garlic powder (had used it before in cooking, but this time it was uncooked; cooking changes the chemical make-up). Likewise, the dish soap and the hand soap at the sink.

Upon reflection, probably **not** the weeding that caused it: again, it was about a three-hour lag between my touching the weeds (and potentially breathing spores, etc.), and my reaction. Plus, if it was topical, it should've affected areas of my body that touched the plant, or that I scratched with tainted fingernails. Yet the underside of my forearms were unaffected, and it seems like the weeds (most were pretty tall) would have whipped against my inner forearm.

On the brighter side: At least it happened to me, and not The Kid. She's still essentially pre-verbal, so we would have been **really** freaking out if she started puffing up like I did! (Can't explain what's wrong with her.) Plus, she's smaller, so less body mass and general sturdiness and resiliance than I have: It didn't affect my breathing, but it might have affected hers.)

Between this allergy thing, and my being ill for a week, I've actually managed to be the sick one, and The Lady was the well one. Usually, it's the other way around: The Lady catches all the colds, and they miss me (or I get over them in half the time, and with lighter symptoms). Guess it's just my turn! ;)


Mediocre church band practice

Well, had the church ''band'' practice last night. Went somewhat poorly, but not horribly. As mentioned in an earlier post, I played electric bass, since my suck-age (relative to an excellent player) is less on that instrument than other other; and also because I've had the most experience playing bass in the bands I've been in.

I hadn't been given the sheet music earlier, so had to figure it out on the spot. And I was clearly the least-experienced there: the keyboard player sight-reads, plus was the one who chose the music; and the pastor has a Bachelor's in music (brought his electric guitar).

I don't sight-read sheet music, so when I play, I either (1) go by the chord changes (e.g. ''A#'') written along the top; (2) sketch it out in tabulature (i.e. lines representing the strings of the instrument, with numbers representing which fret to use on that string); or (3) just figure it out by ear, and play that pattern. No time for #3 or #2 (arrived a little late, didn't want to keep them waiting any longer). Went with the chord changes, but it was difficult because two of the four songs were in flatted keys, so the chord names were written as ''Bb'', ''Eb'', etc. -- whereas I tend to write things as sharps -- so I had to do a lot of ''Eb? Ahhh -- D#!!!'' on the fly.

But: only four songs, and I'm familiar with tunes already. Will practice my part over the next few days; next practice on Tuesday.

Some glimmers of groove-ness, though, so looking forwards to it. And, I was able to make some sugestions re: the arrangement. On two of the songs, I suggested slowing the tempo, to help compensate for the power and energy of using electrified instruments during a church service (i.e. fast music, played with electric guitar, electric bass, and pre-programmed drum rhythms, might just be too much). And for one of them, I thought slowing it down made it more ''flow-y'' -- which better fit the intended vibe.

And, for the communion hymn, I suggested that the bass (i.e. me) just drop out. Having a bass instrument weights down the music and gives it grounding -- whereas I felt that this song needed more of a airy, floaty, etherial feel. Thus, just the keyboards plus some light, lead guitar. The other two guys agreed with my suggestions, which made me feel better, like I wasn't a total musical fraud.

I'll practice up the songs, and add in some runs and flourishes (as appropriate), and actually manage to get into a groove for next time. This coming Tuesday; looking forward to it! :)


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Freaky puffy man

Last night was The Lady's night to work late (teaches an evening class), so I had The Kid. I had fed her, just finished eating my own stuff (culminating with a **huge** bowl of mashed potatoes: four red-skinned, peels on, eaten straight out of the mixing bowl). It was about 7:30pm, and for the last ten minutes I'd noticed the back of my ears feeling hot -- like I'd sunburned them, or used some sort of soap that didn't agree with me.

All of a sudden, my chin under my beard started itching -- then my scalp -- felt like litle fleas nibbling at the hair roots -- then my arms! Thought maybe I was having some sort of skin reaction to something (I **had** pulled some weeds a few hours ago, while looking after The Kid). Itching like **crazy**!!!

Put the kid on the bed, put in one of her favorite kid DVDs to keep her occupied, and dashed for the shower for a full-body wash. Helped a bit. Just as I finished and was toweling off, Ralphie (the dog) ran in and out of the bathroom -- a sign that The Lady was home.

I called out to her that perhaps I should be taken to the emergency room, as I think I was having an allergic reaction to something. She came in to look at me -- and pointed out that my face was all puffy. I looked in the bathroom mirror: Indeed I was -- cheeks, chin, and lips were all puffy: I looked like Homer Simpson, or somebody's sock monkey. And by now, my arms were full of rashes.

I wasn't having any difficulty breathing -- thankfully! -- but I was clearly having an allergic reaction of some sort. Brought The Kid across the road to my in-laws, and The Lady drove me to the nearby (20 minutes away) hospital. The medicos checked me out, and the rash had settled along the underside of my upper arms (pink, with blotchy raised ''plateaus''of white within most of the pink areas), and the fronts and backs of my hands and wrists. Curiously, was not in the underside of my forearm, or across my chest (except near my armpits).

They gave me a shot of something, plus squirted some stuff in my veins; kept me there for an hour or so; and sent me home with some pills of the same stuff to take over the next few days.

So: That's my adventure. I wasn't **scared** at the time -- but clearly, I was rattled, as The Lady noted today that even when I smile, I'm still sad around the eyes. Still slightly puffy on the lips, cheeks just a touch, and some puffy-ness under the eyes. Also just a touch tired and my spoken verbal ability is just a little dulled: could be residual shock, or could be the pills I'm taking (''May cause drowsiness'').

Took a bit of an ''after'' photo this morning; **should've** done a ''before'' pic on our way out the door -- or, at least brought the camera. Pretty weird-looking, though: For an example, though, see the movie ''Hitch'' (Wil Smith; a decent enough movie, some funny parts).

No idea what triggered it. There was a three-hour lag between my weeding and my reaction, which the doctor confirmed is an implausibly long delay. And, I was preparing food, so I'd washed my hands several times in between. And all the stuff I'd eaten (brownies, toast, mashed potatoes with spices, garlic powder, cream cheese, butter, and fake butter powder), I'd had before.

Maybe something bit/stung me? But, I didn't feel anything, and the skin reaction didn't appear to be concentrated in any specific area.

My best guess is that either the red potatoes were gentically modified (some people **can** have reactions to GM foods, as the synthesizing process creates proteins and sugars different from the ''originals'') - or, it could be that even though I scrubbed the potatoes, there may have been residual pesticides. So as to not waste the nutrients under the skin, I drank the water from boiling the potatoes -- four potatoes worth of water -- so, maybe that was it. Dunno.

Lesson learned: When I have an allergic reaction to food, the backs of my ears feeling sunburned is the ten-minute warning.

On brighter news, tonight is the first ''band practice'' for a church music thing that will (supposedly) happen on the last Sunday of this month. Our church has an aging population, so one of the pastors at our church wants to liven things up by having a rock music -ish service on Sundays that are the fifth Sunday of the month. I volunteered to play bass: The pastor has a B.A. in music and plays guitar, so he **way** trumps me there; and I've always been the bass player in any bands I've been in.

Looking forward to it. First time I've played music with others in donkey's years [Aussie expression]. :)


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Geek cred?

I took part in a telephone survey about technology and computers earlier tonight (courtesy check for AU$10 comin' at me!), and I realized we have a **lot** of computers around the house!

I don't know as much about computers as Old Roommate, or my Guitar Cousin, but I'm interested in them. Apprently, woodworking, recording music, computers, and martial arts are my main hobbies. (They overlap, of course: the woodworking is largely so I can make storage cabinets, etc. for my musical instruments, and exercise equipment for martial arts.)

Our computers:

1. The Lady has a laptop computer, from work. Very new; the most powerful out of any of the ones we own.

2. My main computer, that I use for typing. Had it since about 1998 -- still works fine!

3. A new (used) computer that I bought from work. It's only two or three years old, but they upgraded all the computers, so they were selling the old computers for cheap. I use this one for extracting pics from our digital camera, and for the scanner.

4. A computer that I bought used through the classified ads. Except for The Lady's laptop, it's the most powerful out of all our computers. But -- it worked for a few months, then pooped out. I fixed it, then it pooped out again. Then I fixed it again. Some of the jacks on the back don't work correctly, so I've had to use other jacks instead. At the moment it works, but we don't use it for anything specific. When The Kid's old enough to type and make drawings on the computer, we'll probably have her use that one. Or, I might use it for music recording.

5. A funny computer that was really powerful when it first came out (three years ago?), but now is behind the times. (New desktop computers are four times as powerful as this one.) Because it was a high-end computer, it had lots of room for optional extras inside the case; thus, it's almost twice as tall as "normal" desktop computers. I use this one for playing: when I get a computer magazine that comes with free computer programs, I try them out on this machine. If it messes something up, it's not a problem, because I don't keep any of my family photos, old letters, old homework, etc., on it. So, if things get messed up, I can just erase everything and start over.

6. An older computer that I bought (inexpensive) for doing my statistical analyses for my Dissertation. (The data I'm using is confidential -- so the requirements for its use are that I use a separate computer, and that the computer has to be padlocked shut, and the computer case has to be chained to the desk!) It's the oldest and slowest out of any of the computers I've listed (computer #2 -- the one I'm typing on -- is the next-oldest).

7. An Apple Macintosh Classic, from 1990 (I think). My first computer -- my parents bought it for me, for when I went to The Evergreen State College in Olympia. At the moment, it's in a box; no room for it.

8. An Apple II-GS, that used to be my parents'. It was the first home computer that they owned. This one, too, is in a box.

Saw a "blue Macintosh" in the classifieds for fifty bucks Australian (about thirty-eight bucks U.S.); and last week saw a Commodore 128, including printer, etc., for a hundred bucks (about US$75). Both tempting -- but no room, no room. Sadness -- but gotta wait 'til the new house is built.

Dunno what I'd do with them: Probably just turn 'em on, poke around, and go "Hey -- how about that!" ...and then not ever really use 'em again. But still: such coolness, to have them.

A geek at heart, I suppose. If I wasn't into music recording, I suppose I'd do computer stuff as a passtime.

Eight workin' computers. That's a lot of computers. But then, I also have a lot of chisels, and handplanes. And a lot of guitars. So...


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Anticipated mashed potatoes

Yep -- I was actually ill. Some sort of stomach bug. No headache, but fatigued, intermittent mild un-ease of the innards, and occassional wonky-ness of my body temperature.

Yesterday, though, I felt about 85% normal -- and The Kid was clearly on the mend as well, actually talking and being a bit squirrelly. For the first time since Sunday, I was actually up to reading for more than a few minutes. Finished off some books with only a chapter or two to go (I have several books in various stages of progress; an indicator of personality, I suppose -- lateral, rather than linear), plus some magazines. In previous days, just couldn't find a comfortable position...

Today, I feel about 97% normal. For the last day and a half, I've been wanting buttered mashed potatoes. This morning, made some with one small potato. Gooood...

Made another around 11am with three medium-sized potatoes. Still good. :)

After not having eaten except soda crackers, water, and gingerale (essentially), since Saturday, eating ACTUAL FOOD is quite a pleasure.

In betwixt my last post and this one, The Kid and I have basically just been lying around the house, watching kid DVDs and dozing. The Lady has been very good to us, going in late to work and coming home early, to look after us.

In other news: We met with the building supervisor guy this morning, as two surveyor guys staked out where the house will be built. So, looks like things are finally progressing towards getting us a house.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Brave, or stupid?

On Thursday, The Kid threw up while she, The Lady and I were at Uni. Some sort of stomach bug: she's been better, and worse, since then; sometimes running a fever, sometimes not; sometimes chipper, sometimes lying on the bed in a stupor (well, watching ''Postman Pat'' or ''Dora the Explorer'' DVDs on the bedroom t.v.

This morning, while the Lady did some quick errands, I watched The Kid. I dozed in and out until about 10am, and actually **slept** from around 11am-1pm -- not normal for me, unless I'm sleep-deprived (which I wasn't). Felt a little fatigued, too.

**But** -- had done some yardwork yesterday, to prep the building site for the workers laying the water mains, and wanted to finish it off today, before the work-week started. Didn't feel crummy enough to stay in bed, and I was getting bored (couldn't find a comfortable reading position), so I changed into my work clothes, and just tried to pace myself.

Worked from around 3pm to 6:30pm (slightly after dark). At certain points, I knew I had hyper-ventilated because my molars and gums were tingling (for me, a sure sign). And when I went next door to see how Next Door Brother In Law and his wife were doing with some yardwork, I found I had to sit down, as I didn't have the strength to stand comfortably.

But, I pushed on.

Once it was too dark to work, and I had put away all my tools, I shuffled in to the shower. To take off my pants, had to sit on the stepstool The Kid uses to reach the sink: hmm.

Felt a little better after my shower, but still feeling fatigued. Had eaten two bowls of cereal for breakfast, but only two bites of hamburger and a handful of fries for lunch (just not hungry) -- so, that could be part of it.

Did I make myself worse by going out and doing yardwork. I don't think so, but that's a mild possibility.

There's a fine line between being brave and stalwart, and being just plain stupid. Not sure which side of the line I ended up on -- but there's a strong family trend on both my parents' sides of just doing what ya gotta do. So: part masculinities, part family socialization. ;)