Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Good garage sale haul

Stopped by the best garage sale I've **ever** been to here in Australia! The entire basement of a house. I asked the lady (if she didn't mind telling me) where all the stuff came from: she said that they used to clear out houses (estate sales, etc.) for a living. So, I presume this was all the ''non-dumpster'' stuff.

A fair amount of good stuff, although most of it wasn't of direct interest to me. I only had three bucks on me -- because it's rare for me to go out without The Lady, and we've somehow settled into a pattern where **she's** the one who hits the cash machine -- so I laid my choices on the ground and asked the garage sale lady how much of it she'd let me take for three bucks. ''All of it,'' she said. Woo-hoo!!!

A small-ish ball-peen hammer: It was clearly used around car parts, because the wooden handle is coated with dried automotive grease 'n' oil; the texture is unpleasant as I hold it. Needs a good clean with turpentine or mentholated spirits, then some of my boiled linseed oil and turps ''wooden tool handle'' mixture.
Despite its small size, it has a nice heft, and the wooden handle has some subtle shaping that makes it fit nicely in my hand.

A small-ish claw hammer, metal handle, black rubber grip. Again, despite its small size -- you can compare it to the size of the CD-R, for scale -- it has a good heft.

Green plastic pruners: solid, in reasonably good condition (although the cutting blade needs a quick sharpen).


Green clamshell-style CD-ROM case.

Since I paid AU$3.00 for the lot, that works out to 60 cents each. Yeah -- a verra good deal. ;)

There was a small synthesizer/keyboard, a cricket bat, two rusty handsaws, and a few shovels there that I'll take a look at when they're next open. No price stickers on anything, so I presume you just make an offer...



Tonight I was looking through a box of papers out on the veranda, with the light on -- but only a single bulb way up high, it's hard to see. I was grumbling to myself "It's a bother to have to go get a torch just to see what you're doing..."

Then realized that I'd thought "torch" to myself, not "flashlight." Hm! Three or four years of living here over-riding 33 years of living in the States.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Actually publishing a paper?

If you want to be an academic-type person at a ''research'' university now-a-days, you need to have a few papers published when you apply for a job -- even for an entry-level position.

I have a few papers in various stages of completion, but rightly or wrongly, I've prioritized finishing my Ph.D. Dissertation ahead of that.

However, by Thursday (tomorrow), I need to send in two writing samples to the hiring committee for the job that I'm interviewing for on Monday. The Lady and I both thing that **one** of the two needs to be a criminology-type piece (the other one is an organizational report I wrote last year, as part of my job -- but it's on family-friendly workplaces).

So, I was going to just send in my Master's Thesis. Took a look at it, though, and my writing skills have apparently improved over the last seven (??!!!) years, because there were parts of it that made me cringe.

More importantly, the way I remembered setting up my argument, and the points I remembered making, were not how I actually wrote it. Hm!

So, I've spent the last three days (including today) revising it. The down-side is that it's taking even more time away from my completing my Dissertation. The up-side, however, is that by the time I finish with the revision, it's essentially ready to submit to an academic journal, to see if they want to publish it.

In hindsight, I should've done this **years** ago. Although, arguably, the end-product I'm creating now will be stronger than what I would've had five years ago.

And oddly, I'm finding the writing process fairly enjoyable. A different process than writing my Dissertation, I suppose, because I **know** it's going somewhere useful. Plus, it's shorter and punchier.


Sexist banks, house progress, weather

Even though our home loan is through The Lady's bank account, not mine, and based on her income, not mine, **I'm** the first-listed on the documentation -- and I'm the primary signer on the ''first homeowner's rebate grant'' that I signed today. (Apparently, in AU you get a few thousand bucks from the govt. if it's your first house -- instead of getting tax deductions for mortgage payments like in the U.S.)

My name being first **could** be because my surname comes before The Lady's surname, alphabetically. But I think it's just because they assume that since I'm the guy, I'm the main person.

After a few weeks of no progress, the tile-installing guys have been on-site for three days. Because of the housing boom, I think we got less-experienced guys. Not only are they young-looking, but they've screwed up a few times, now: installed the wrong off-white in one of the bathrooms -- which then meant that they were three boxes short of one color off-white, and three boxes over on the other. The inventory numbers on the boxes didn't match the list they were given, so they just took a guess -- but I'm thinkin' a more experienced tiler would have laid out all the boxes **first**, to check that the amount of supplies matched, **prior** to jumping in.

They phoned The Lady, saying they had a problem and needed her judgment call. It was either pry up the entire bathroom floor (destroying the tiles in the process), or just living with it, and ordering more tiles (but not at our expense). In the interests of not wasting tiles (and keeping the momentum going), The Lady was nice enough to say they could leave it as-is. (The colors worked o.k.)

They also tiled an area in the kitchen that wasn't supposed to be tiled -- so they're now short that number of bricks in **that** color, as well. It looks fine, though, and they'll pay for the extra tiles that get ordered. And they laying-out that they're doing looks fine.

Still: not impressed.

Two or three days ago, the weather changed for the cooler: we think we're finally sliding into Autumn. Actually been slightly cool at night, and in the morning it's not **hot** already at 8am. Verra nice.

This is The Lady's favorite time of year: when it stops being hot.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fun w/ play-doh

I know it's been more than thirty years since I was this age -- but I don't think I ever did **this** with my play-doh.

She sat there for quite a while, slowly turning her head back and forth, ''looking'' around.

She eventually took the play-doh off.

Not sure what she was doing. But, she was having fun -- and it was harmless. ;)


Saturday, March 17, 2007

You **know** what day it is!!!

Ooh-yeah -- you know what Day this is!!!! ;)

Whoop, whoop, whoop!!!

Happy St. P's day to all!!!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Know thyself (and thy geekness)

As I get older and older, I get a stronger sense of myself and of my interests. This is a good thing, of course -- hopefully, this happens to everyone.

I've noticed that over the last few months, when I do a little reading before bed, I've been reading my woodworking magazines over my Linux (computer) magazines. That's probably a good indication of which interest trumps which.

I've recognized that I don't want to be an I.T. person for a living. When do you computers as a hobby, you can pursue the stuff that interests you, and ignore the stuff that doesn't.

But I still have a touch o' the Geek: I have an old 200MB hard drive that someone gave me. (Nowadays, 80GB seems pretty standard.) Rather than throw it away, I'm keeping it around -- I'm curious about whether I can successfully get it to mount (get recognized by the computer). Now, that's probably not a normal sort of curious-ness, is it? :)


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Feeling good, people like me

My innards are back to about 95% normal-ness, so I'm pretty pleased about that. Ate ''normal food'' last night -- The Lady made a stir-fry with onion, ground beef, wild rice, and etc. -- and although my serving wasn't as large as usual, my tummy felt good about the experience.

Also, I got a phone call this morning from a local university, where I'd submitted an application for a position at their Violence and Victimization research institute. Apparently, I've been shortlisted. Interview in early April.

Yesterday, I dropped off an application for a Research Officer position at a government Crime/Criminal Justice research agency downtown. And, the day my Violence and Victimization interview occurs is the closing date for one of two parallel Lecturer B (for the Yanks: Assistant Professor) positions at The Lady's department. Awkwardly, if I apply, for obvious reasons she has to excuse herself from the selection committee -- which means she wouldn't have a say on the characteristics of who gets hired (for either position).

We'll see how this all turns out. The plan is for me to keep applying, and just take the first gig that comes up. 'T'would be nice to have a proper income, again. ;)


Monday, March 12, 2007

I look like a dork

Wow! There's nothing like a passport photo to make you look non-attractive. At least with driver's license photos, you can kind of smile. With a passport photo, it's total deadpan.

I'm greying (which I don't mind), but it's mostly on one side; my ears are completely asymmetrical; and my hairline is very much receding (which I'm not willing to take surgical or chemical interventions to address, but still clashes with my self-image from my young 20s).

Sorry, our scanner's broken -- otherwise I'd post a copy of the photo.

On the other hand, this truly does illustrate how a sunny smile -- or a dopey grin -- can really improve a person's appearance. ;) Compared to the hand yer dealt, when you're staring deadpan.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Kinda sick, but I've been sicker

Thursday (yeah, it's Sunday now) was first day of leading two computer labs for a research methods class that The Lady co-teaches. I'm one of three computer lab folks: my labs are Thursdays, noon to 2pm, and 2pm-4pm. The basic format is that I give a mini-lecture for the first 10-15 minutes, then let them loose working on the day's lab exercise while I wander around and give advice.

I'd forgotten how much fun I have, spouting off in front of the classroom; the students seemed to enjoy it (mostly!), as well. My aim is to be informative, with a bit of amusement and entertainment thrown in. Although I don't think I've ever seen him in front of his classrooms, my sense is that my teaching style is influenced by my dad's (middle school and high school; now retired). My brother's a school teacher now, as well: I wonder what his style is like.

Back to Thursday: The Lady had to leave to go pick up The Kid from daycare, so I walked across the new commuter footbridge that spans the Brisbane River, so she could pick me up at the parking lot on the other side. On my way to the bridge, I toyed with getting a slushie from the on-campus candy store, but decided against it: my tummy was a little unsettled.

Walked across, met up w/ The Lady, who said that just before she'd arrived to pick up The Kid at daycare, The Kid had thrown up. Poor bub!

We got home, and my insides were still a bit unsettled. The next day -- Friday -- was my day to look after The Kid. My abdomen felt like I'd been punched in the stomach, once -- or like I'd done a zillion sit-ups. The Kid and I lay about until about noon on Mommy and Daddy's bed, watching kid DVDs while Daddy dozed; had a bit of inoffensive food (crackers) at the kitchen table; then fell asleep on the bed until Mommy got home (a bit after 6pm).

Saturday, still under the weather. The Lady ran the usual Saturday errands while I stayed home and slept. Lady came home, had some light dinner, and I went back to bed.

Sunday (today), slightly better. Still tired, though, with many naps. Turned down the opportunity for a slushie -- a sure sign that I'm **still** not completely well.

Unfortunate, as I was on a pretty good trajectory with my Dissertation writing. Friday night and tonight, however, I squoze in the time to complete a job application (including addressing the various ''selection criteria'' for a research job downtown), application due Monday. Other than that, four days of sleeping, dozing in and out, and/or watching a variety of mediocre t.v. while going ''Guhhhhhh''.

And, how was **your** weekend? ;)

OTOH: I've been sicker.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Little adventure

Around noon today, it became uncomfortably hot in the study (i.e. our home office), and it was about 33C. The rule of thumb is that if the temperature is too hot for a person, it's too hot for your computer; and another rule of thumb is that 32C-33C is about as hot as you want your computer room to get. So, I packed up the house, grabbed the laptop, and headed off to the library.

On the way there, the red ''ignition'' light was on nearly the whole time. Made a mental note to myself to ask The Lady's parents about that when I got home. Also, as I listened to my ''mix cassette'', the volume kept dropping to almost nothing -- and then abruptly returning. Hm. Weird. But, I figured it was just oxidized bits of cassette tape coming off on the playback heads, then getting whisked away.

Was productive as normal at the local library (which is attached to the shopping mall). Spend the first half of my shift at the library, and the second half in the food court (while sipping on a slushie). Packed up around 4pm and headed home, to pick up The Kid from my mother-in-law.

About halfway home, however, the engine started ''chugging'', and I couldn't get any power: even with the pedal floored, I couldn't get up past 40km/h (about 25mph) -- and this was on the local highway, where the speed limit is about 80km/h! So cars were pulling around me and generally being annoyed. I ended up driving along the shoulder. And shortly thereafter, the car pooped out.

So, ended up walking home. Took me about 25-30 minutes. But, it could have been worse: the breakdown happened on the way home, in the late afternoon, so it was cooler than high noon (on the way in); I was only carrying the laptop bag, not groceries or whatever; I was wearing comfortable shoes (actually, I'm a guy, so all my shoes are comfortable -- even my dress shoes!)I had my wide-brimmed sun hat with me; it wasn't raining; and I found three pieces of wood (about the size ofmy arm) lying by the side of the road near where the car stalled out, which I salvaged and took home with me. And, I got some exercise.

Mum and Next-Door-BrotherInLaw were in the back yard at Mum's place, watching the kids. As I walked past the carport where The Lady and I park the car, clearly sweaty and a half hour late for picking up The Kid, I was disappointed that no one asked ''Hey! Where's your car?'' -- to which I would've replied "DOH!!!''

Next-Door BIL drove me back to the car and looked it over, but no dice. We phone RACQ (the car club), and I waited about a half hour (BIL had other things he needed to do). The service guy came, said it was the alternator, and charged up my battery. I limped home, after dark, on battery power with just running lights, no headlights, with the RACQ truck trailing me with its lights flashing.

End of adventure. ;) (Tomorrow, I'll get a tow truck to take the car to the mechanic's.)


Those e-mail scams

Last night was catching up on Saturday's paper, and came across an article about a guy who scams the scammers. Basically, when he gets the ''Dear Sir, I am the solicitor for a large estate and please to need your help in transferring millions of dollars...'', he e-mails them back, strings them along, and often requires them to do wacky things like e-mail photos of themselves holding signs saying ''Ima Scum'', etc. -- for ''identification purposes.''

Has a website -- -- and has written a book containing a number of his e-mail exchanges with these folks, called Greeting in Jesus Name! The Scambaiter Letters.

He's a professional I.T. guy; he advises regular folks to **not** engage these folks, because (1) he and his team ''cloak'' their identities, server locations, etc., and (2) by actually sending e-mail back, your e-mail address gets flagged as a valid address, which will just lead to even more spam being sent your way.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Never give up

Back in late December, I saved two mango seeds (mango husks? mango pits?), and dried them as per my Googled "how to grow a mango tree from seed" instructions. I planted them January second (Yeah, I write these things down) -- just to see if it would work. Remember that it's summer for us in January.

For flower pots, I used a 2L pop bottle, and 2L milk jug, with the tops cut off and drainage holes poked in the bottom. I put the two "pots" out with the rest of our potted plants outside the bedroom window, and watered them regularly (same as the rest of the plants).

There was no apparent progress, and I had basically given up on them -- but I kept watering them anyhow. Today, I was out watering the plants again (we're in a drought, so I save the bath water from The Kid's bath, and water the plants with that), and noticed that one of the mangoes had actually sprouted! It must've just happened in the last week, as it's been raining every few days so I haven't been hand-watering for a while.

I replanted it into a bigger pot, to give the roots room to grow.

On related note, of the ten or so orange seeds I tried planting (I Googled the instructions for how to dry them, etc.), one of them sprouted. (In the red plastic pot.)

Never give up, I suppose. ;)


Saturday, March 03, 2007

House progress and more workbenches

I thought about posting two separate blog entries, but since I don't like the way Blogspot formats multiple blog entries posted in a single day, I'll just combine 'em.

House progress: A week ago, the site supervisor guy phoned The Lady at work and asked us to have the site mowed, as the grass was now knee-height in many places. He wouldn't say exactly why it needed to be done, or what the deadline was. (My guess is so the drain-field can be dug near the front of the property: since new workers wouldn't know what hazards lie hidden among the grass as they drive their trucks about, I can see how the grass could classify as a safety risk.)

Normally, for around a hundred bucks you'd hire someone to come in with a big ''slasher'' and mow everything: however, because there were boards, lumps of concrete, and what-not lying about, I don't think a slasher driver would like his/her blades getting ruined on the hidden hazards. So, I did it myself, with a heavy-duty gasoline-powered ''pushing'' mower. Took about two days (taking three hours off during the midday heat); the second day, The Lady's mom came over and assisted me, by driving the riding mower on the less-hazardous areas.

Looks pretty good now: looks like a home that's nearly completed, rather than just a worksite. Photo above is of the house as of this morning, with recently-mowed front lawn.

Workbenches: Still hankering for a workbench. Went over to Next-Door Uncle's place (uncle-in-law, actually) to borrow a shop vacuum, and also brought my digital camera to take pics of the two workbenches that he'll be giving me, when I actually have a place to put 'em.

The first workbench was a surplus from some A&P workshop closing down. Next-Door Uncle says that since he's (clearly!) not using it right now, I'm welcome to take it whenever I want it.

Thought the top was MDF (fibreboard) -- but now, looking at the photo, not so sure. If it is indeed MDF, I may or may not replace it with actual wood. Note the tool tray/tool well as the back half. No vice attached, but I have a few options available to me, including a small woodworking vice I picked up for around five bucks(?-bad memory for numbers, which is why I write everything down!!!) at a garage sale, as well as a ''metalworking'' vice that my grandpa used as a woodworking vice (lined the jaws with wood) that I'll be receiving in about a month (see below).

The second workbench belonged to The Lady's great- grandfather -- her maternal grandfather's dad. Put differently, the grandpa that once lived in the house we're currently in? His dad.

Great-Grandpa was a shipbuilder, although Next-Door Uncle doesn't think the workbench was necessarily used for the ships: more likely, just for home stuff. Still, a neat-o piece of history. Misc. tools and such on the workbench clearly not included. ;)

Related note: Speaking of historical workbenches: As I'd mentioned back in August, my paternal grandfather sold his house and moved in to an assisted-living place. I visited his home (in the U.S.) and shipped a bunch of stuff to myself here in Brisbane.

My crates with my grandpa's tools, as well as many, many wooden things that he built, are being held in Sydney while we wait for the house to be completed. Crates will arrive here at the end of March. When they arrive, I'll take a few pics and post 'em. When I merge them in with my existing stock of tools, about two-thirds of my total stock of tools will have been my Grandpa's. That's pretty neat.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Science-ish merit badges

I just now read an e-mail from Old Roommate about ''Science-Related Merit Badges'' that he thought applied to me. (He notes that '' Images of the badges along with interesting summary from

It's quite a list on that page!

Anyhow, here are the merit badges he chose for me:

  1. The "has frozen stuff just to see what happens" badge ((TRUE!!!)

  2. The "I work with way too much radioactivity, and yet still nodiscernable superpowers yet" badge. ((No radioactivity nor superpowers; but still, quite fitting))

  3. The "I may look like a scientist but I'm actually also a ninja" badge. ((Something like that...)) ;)

  4. The "I'm a freaking rock star who sings about science!" badge. ((''She Blinded Me with Science!!!'' Not sure; I know I name-check Leonardo DaVinci in one of my songs, but for his artist-ness.))

  5. The "inordinately fond of invertebrate" badge. ((Eh? Sorry?))

  6. The "have used a dental drill and I've never been a dentist" badge ((Technically not true -- although I do have a university-surplus phlebotomist's chair (or possibly blood-donating, or dialysis), which we refer to as ''the bloodletting chair''; very comfy! reclines waaaaay back.))

The photo at top is very similar, but not exactly, to my blood-letting chair. The wheels make it handy to move it about the room (watch t.v.!!! look out the window!!!), and it has drop-down trays mounted under each chair arm. But unlike the one pictured, the arms don't slide down.


Wishing for workbenches

Over the last week, I've been hankering for workbenches: daydreaming about them, glancing thru my various woodworking books for diagrams of them [only during breaks in Dissertation-writing, of course!], and even buying woodworking magazines just because (well, mostly because) they had a ''how to build a workbench'' article.

One of the first orders of business, WIFMD, is to set up a section of the back yard for doing some simple woodworking. For about AU$80 (about US$55), I can get a decent-sized portable picnic gazebo with built-in bug screens (and a zipper down the side, so you can get in and out). Planning to lay out a few concrete paving stones, and set up a few saw-horses and saw benches (picture of a sawbench above, taken from a very good blog entry at Put a simple sheet-metal shelving unit out there, to hold the stuff that people wouldn't bother to steal (jars of nails, wooden parts from works-in-progress, etc.). And use a wooden tool tote to carry the actual tools out to the work area, and bring them back in at night.

Someday... ;)


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Weird woodworking dream

This is probably a sign of woodworking withdrawal; looking forward to finishing my Dissertation and getting to build interesting and useful things out of wood.

During R.E.M. sleep last night, I dreamed I was ripping [cutting it the long way] a 4-foot length of 2" x 8"board with a wooden-handled rip saw. Probably took a good five minutes of just dreaming about the sawing.

Woke up with only 4" to go to complete the cut. Gar!!!

For some reason, in the dream I thought that drizzling olive oil over the saw blade would help the saw move more freely in the cut. (In real life, you'd use hard wax, like rubbing a candle on the saw blade.) At the time, I was thinking that olive oil was more Galoot-y than canola oil. (Don't knowwhy.)