Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Lawnchairs and faith in humankind

We live semi-rural, and on a somewhat major road, so we get the occasional ignorant driver who throws junk onto the side of the road, along our property. Mostly it's fast-food bags or wrappers, and the soda or alcohol can or bottle (a pox on those who throw glass bottles! little kids live here, dork-face!). And occasionally it's something larger, like an old tire.

A few days ago, someone apparently pulled over and left three lawn chairs. Two were kids' size, in pretty good condition, and one was adult size, in mediocre condition.

After finding them there, I joked to my wife's family that I should put a sign on them and try to sell them. And, after a day or two, I did.

I set them up in an arc, and put a sign on two of them -- one for each direction of traffic -- saying ''$5 (for all three!)''. I also put a plastic container, weighted down with rocks, and wrote ''PAY HERE'' on it. A bit of a social experiment.

Put it up on the late morning of Saturday, May 28th.

Sunday evening, after dark, Ralphie started barking like nobody's business. Told him off, but then after a while, realized that a car had pulled up near our property, and was parked there, idling. After a few moments, it drove away.

A few minutes after that, I heard my father-in-law (lives across the street) calling out to us. I opened the window and asked what he wanted. He said that the car had taken two of the chairs -- but left the not-as-good-one -- and also left me the five dollars! He handed me the five bucks, and went home.

For the rest of the evening, every time I thought about someone actually paying the five bucks for the ''free'' chairs, I'd laugh giddily to myself. Pretty nifty, to get five bucks for ''found'' items. And, it helps to restore one's faith in humankind: it was after dark, so they could've just taken the chairs; they didn't have to pay the five bucks.

I'm saving the five bucks, to save on something special or symbolic: I want to be able to point to a garage sale hammer (or whatever) and say ''See this hammer? I bought this with the five bucks I...''

I put a new sign on the remaining chair, for one dollar. We'll see if it goes. :)


P.S. This would've made a good Mentos commercial.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cognitive kid

It rained last night. This morning we went outside to play for a little bit, while mommy was taking a shower. The Kid walked over to the slide, but it had water droplets all over it.

She folded her arms, said ''Hmmm'' while tapping the side of her mouth, and then declared -- with finger thrust into the air -- ''Towel!!!''

Interesting to observe the cognitive processes. I've wiped the slide off with a towel once, half a year or a year ago -- but she probably doesn't remember that. Rather, since she's observed towels in use for drying off after a bath, and for drying hands with, I think she generalized the use of towels to a broader ''drying off wet things -- including slides.''

Fascinating stuff! :)


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why I'm not into traveling

It's not that I **dis**-like travelling, per se -- it's just that I don't gain as much inherent enjoyment from it as other people do.

To illustrate: Let's say I have the opportunity to visit [name of exotic country] for a week. For free. And this opportunity coincides with my vacation time. And, yes, there are thousands of potentially interesting and engaging places in this world I have yet to see.

But, I also know that I have a finite number of hours remaining on this planet, with which to do things.

Thus, given the finite number of hours at my disposal, I could spend those hours to:

-Make something useful out of wood

-Spend time with my wife and child

-Read a book I've been meaning to read (I have a looong llist)

-Rent and watch a movie on DVD (another looong list)

-Attend a martial arts class

-Putter around in the yard

-Get better at playing a musicial instrument

-Spend time with friends

-Write and/or record another song

-Shoot and/or edit some video footage, for a film short of music video

-Tidy/re-arrange the home office, garage, workshop, shed

...and so forth.

In other words, for my tastes and sensibilities, traveling is a less efficient use of my time than staying at home (or within a few kilometers of home) to do things that have a higher ''enjoyment-to-tiime-spent'' payoff ratio.

The exception is when I fly back to Seattle, to visit friends and family. But I don't count that as ''traveling'' as a tourist/visitor: this is pragmatic, goal-oriented, ''getting somewhere to hang out with people I like'' transportation.

But then, that's me. If your values are different (e.g. you value going to somewhere new and different more than reading a book or practicing the trumpet), then yeah, go travel. :)

(Footnote: The Lady, however, **does** enjoy traveling. So sometimes we go on trips, because I like being with The Lady, and I like making The Lady happy. But in general, I'm a hobbit: I stay at home in my warren.)


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Finding the beats wherever you can

Have been sitting at the kitchen table basically all day, grading a big pile of papers while listening to CDs. I noticed, during a Dan Bern CD -- catchy tunes, fun yet intelligent lyrics, go buy his albums!!! -- that I was tapping my foot to the songs.

Took a break from grading, went and grabbed the dead microwave that I'll [someday] cannibalize for parts, grabbed a spare kick drum pedal, and put both under the kitchen table. Gave my right foot something substantial to work with.

The sound was too clangy for my taste, so I also grabbed an old towel and put it over the end of the microwave: it has more of a ''thump'' sound, now.

I can keep a pretty coordinated beat going while I'm just making check-marks and writing the number of earned points in the margins. But I have to stop while I write actual comments.

Just something to keep my hand in, musically. WIFMD (When I Finish My Dissertation) -- and when we move across to the new house -- I intend to get back into playing and recording.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Fixing things with what you have

After about two years of use, the quick-'n'-dirty hinge for the gate to the ''doggie yard'' finally gave way -- at least, the bottom one did. It was just a loop of fencing wire, twisted through a hole in the steel fence post (or ''star stake'', as they're called locally) and through the hinge-hole in the gate. Since we use the gate several times a day, it's not surprising that it wore though -- although it's interesting that the bottom one wore through, yet the top one seems fine. Maybe it's 'cause the bottom one drags across the ground when the gate gets used.

I had always meant to replace the loop of wire with something more ''hinge-like'' -- something that would hold the gate up off the ground, so the gate wouldn't drag on the dirt every time you used it. Something essentially like what I actually ended up doing (see photo to left). Nothing fancy: just a block of wood (one for the top hinge, one for the bottom), cut to size, with a small hole drilled to attach it to the star stake, and a larger hole for the bolt (same size as the hole in the tab on the gate), to act as a hinge.

If I had an actual workbench, creating these little blocks of wood would have been a pretty straightforward task. But, since I'm ''between workbenches'', I had to use some jiggery.

This picture (with my foot, for scale) is a small little footstool-sized item is some sort of mini-workbench, built by my wife's Grandad. Her brother found it out in one of the sheds a year ago, and I was allowed to keep it (Mum gets first dibs, since he was her dad...). I think the pattern on the wood is pretty nifty: the softer wood, between the growth rings, had slowly rotted away, leaving the raised ridges of the harder growth rings; a groovy pattern.

Grandad probably used it for back-yard sort of sawing: propping up the end of a board, so you can cut it with a handsaw.

On top of this, I laid a piece of scrap wood, so I wouldn't bung up the mini workbench (made to be used, I know -- but I'd like to preserve this little fellow...). Then I placed a clamp on top: the clamp would become my makeshift vice, for holding the wood.

Then I clamped **this** clamp to the mini-workbench, to keep it from skittering around. If I had a ''real'' workbench, with some weight to it, and a built-in vice, it would be a little more straightforward. Ah, well -- another month or two. And this was a good mental exercise, for making do with what I have.

So, that's the basic set-up. I've shown it here ''in use'', with a piece of wood I'm pretending to drill (or rather, auger -- with a brace-and-bit). In actual use, my foot would have been on the right end, holding the mini-workbench stable as I drilled/augered.

Worked well enough. I did all this in the doggie yard, so I wouldn't have to clean up the misc. sawdust and shavings. The dog watched for a while with mild curiosity, then wandered off.

No electrons were harmed in the making of these little wooden hinges.

Oh, yeah: gave 'em a quick coat of boiled linseed oil, just for some modicum of weather-protection. The wood is actually treated pine -- left over from our house construction (nearly finished; yay!!!) -- so it would've been fine by itself. But BLO smells nice...


Sunday, April 08, 2007


The lady got this term from a former co-worker.

Being ''gift-gazumped'' is when someone gets you a gift that you weren't expecting, so you're caught flat-footed -- or you got someone a token gift (like a small box of candy), and they got you a ''real'' gift. Happens with co-workers around holiday times, and also with friends-of-family -- like when someone shows up at Christmas with a gift for your kid, and you don't have one for **their** kid.

A derivation of this is ''card-gazumped'' -- when someone gets you a card, and you didn't get them one. Ummm....

A useful term.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Chinese medicine and aftershave

One aspect of Chinese medicine has to do with ''hot'' and ''cold'' foods: strategically manipulating the ''hot/cold'' balance of foods that you eat. For example, if you're feeling a bit chilly, **don't** eat a banana [a ''cold'' food]; instead, eat some ginger, or a cola drink [''warm'' foods].

I thought of this this cold morning, when I realized that on hot days, my unconscious tendency is to use a ''cool'' scent [them ''fresh breeze''/''ice'' scents], while on cold days (like today), I prefer a "hot" scent, like spice or cinnamon.

Which scent I use hasn't been a strategic decision -- it just reflected what I was in the mood for. Which, apparently, was consistent with Chinese medical philosophy. Maybe there's something to it...


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bad t.v. commerical

Possibly the worst opening line to a t.v. commercial (heard it tonight):

''If you've suffered a heart attack or stroke, you never want it to happen again.'' (for a heart medication ad)

Duh. Really???