Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dave and Dolly

It's good to have life-goals. Probably my top two are (1) to appear on the David Letterman show, and (2) to co-write, and co-record, a song with Dolly Parton.

Regarding #1: I'd be o.k. with being on Letterman because of my fame or worthy thing I did (e.g. as a notable Criminologist); or as the guest band; or through some sort of ''Stupid Human Trick'' (I have one or two in the works, but I'm not yet sufficiently practiced to send in an audition tape).

Regarding #2: Yeah, it's not hip or cool to be into Country music, and esp. not Dolly Parton (as opposed to, I suppose, The Dixie Chicks). But relative to Country music as a whole, she writes an astoundingly high proportion of her own songs (which I respect and admire); and her songs are both catchy and have good lyrics. She also seems like a genuinely nice person: she donates a ton of money to charities, and is pretty humble and good-natured and able to laugh at herself.

(A while back I Googled her, and found a number of interviews. One of them notes that she never had any children -- not through any birth control measures, but it just didn't happen, she said. She then says that she takes it as a good thing, because if she did have her own children she'd probably be selfish and channel all her money into giving them a better life. As it is, all children are her children, so she tries to look out for them all.)

WIFMD (When I Finish My Dissertation), it'd be tempting to send her a demo tape with a few of my songs, and ask her if she'd like to collaborate. But I don't know to make it past her ''gatekeepers'' that I would presume answer her mail and keep out the crackpots. And putting in my cover letter, "I'm not a crackpot! Really!!!" probably wouldn't work.

Something to deal with another day... :)


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Laughs at tragedy

This is probably horrible of me:

Two days ago, we were in the car, listening to the news on the radio. A story about the California bush fires (sorry: "forest fires" for you Yanks) came on.

They had a snippet from Gov. Arnold: ''Thiz is a huuj traah-jiddy fohr da Staht of Cal-le-FOR-nee-yuh..." And I just busted out laughing.

Because I live here in Aussie-land, not in the U.S., I hadn't heard Gov. Arnold speak since he'd become Governor. So, he still sounded like... Arnold Schwarzenegger!!! Not like ''the Governor of California". I expected him to end with a bad pun, like ''We ahr get-ting SMOHKED ouht heah!''

I suppose I would have had the same reaction if it had been anyone else with a distinctive way of talking: Jimmy Steward, James Cagney, Groucho Marx, Jimmy Durante (hmmm... all these ''Jimmy''s). Mae West. Gilbert Gottfried.

Although: I guess if you want to be taken seriously as a state, don't elect a movie actor as your Governor.

Or as your President, for that matter.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Caped avenger chronology

This is the sort of thing I think about as The Lady drives us back from an ultrasound appointment (which, BTW, went well: the twins are doing super-well, and everything is on track):

Why do super-heroes, when they're named after a certain time of day, seem to choose nighttime names? Captain Midnight, The Midnight Avenger, NightCat. It seems so... impractical: prancing around at night, fighting crime. You can't see much, 'cause it's dark; and a lot of times, it's cold, too.

If I was a super-hero, I think I'd be... one to strike fear into evil-doers' hearts... Yes!!! I shall become... a creature of... the mid-afternoon!!! I shall become -- The Afternoon-Tea Avenger!!!

(For you Yanks: that's like your afternoon coffee break.)

Or maybe The Mighty, Mid-Morning Marauder of Justice: Commander Brunch!!!

Either one -- much more sensible. You can see where you're going; not as cold; and you can get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Hm: Maybe this is why it's teens and college students that are bitten by radioactive spiders -- 38 year-old guys with a wife and kids just find the whole thing too inconvenient.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Nice bench

Got this pic from a recent post at a woodworking blog I check in on. I shaved a copy to HD: for some reason, I'm informally collecting pictures of woodworking workbenches. Some guys like photos of sports cars; I do workbenches. Cheaper, less running costs, and smaller to store, I suppose. Although you can't use them to run errands; and you probably can't impress your teenage nephew as well as if you had a flashy red sports car.

I was talking to my wife this morning, half-complaining that I have too many interests: music (being in a band...); martial arts (classes 2-3 evenings a week...); woodworking. When am I really going to get the chance to pursue them?

For the next ten(?) years, I'll probably only be able to pursue one, possibly two; three is unlikely: a sad realization. Although the trade-off -- having the kidlets in my life -- is worth it.

I think the secret will be to figure out which I can do in conjunction with the kids. For example, I reckon that within two years, The Girl will be able to do stuff with me in the shop (I tend to use hand tools, not machines, so the risk of [serious] injury is minimal. And if they kids show any interest in martial arts, I might be able to train with them (or have them train with me), to one extent or another. And maybe, hopefully, the piano lessons will be a little more engaging if we're composing songs on the side, with Daddy making recordings of them.

So: we'll see. :)


(photo source:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Potentential music

Today we went over to my brother-in-law/sister-in-law's house, next door, to give them their birthday presents. We ended up hanging around for a while, during which time my niece (either 15yo or 16yo, I forget) played us a song on the piano that she had written. It was a little un-polished, in that she was a bit shy so it was hard to hear the lyrics, and she hasn't worked out how she wants the intro, bridge, etc. to go. But still, a good song: catchy, and had a touch of distinctiveness to it. I still remember (mostly) how it goes -- which is my main criteria for a ''good song'' (versus ''forgettable'').

She and sat around and talked about possible arrangements for the song, experimenting with some of them (e.g. playing the first ''loop'' of the verse once, twice, or once with a dramatic pause, before singing the first verse). I also suggested playing the final verse -- which she wants to be extra sad -- with just the right-hand portion, since the left hand's chording gives too much of a sense of power and substance -- the opposite of what she wants. She tried it, and it seemed to work.

From earlier conversations, I know that one of her goals is to gain competence in as many instruments as possible; I hold a similar goal, so we're kindred spirits in that regard. I told her that once I finish my Dissertation -- and when I get my music gear set up -- I'd be honoured to help record that song, plus possibly help in the arranging.

Once I got home, I got the idea of maybe buying her an inexpensive 4-track recorder to let her sketch out her ideas. (She has a PC, so recording software is also an option; but IMO starting with a physical device is more tactile, and thus better for beginners.) Curiously, Venue Music, which is an Australian music supply company that does mail-order, no longer carries cassette 4-tracks: too outdated, I guess. Neither does Allan's Music (another Aussie musical supplier).

I checked Musician's Friend and American Musical Supply, both U.S. mail-order companies: both offer the Tascam MFP01 for US$80, and the Tascam Porta02MkII for US$100; Musician's Friend also offers the Fostex X-12 for US$80. Sadly, all of them are too bare-bones to allow ''ping-ponging'' tracks -- whereby you mix tracks 1-3 onto track 4, thereby freeing tracks 1-3 for additional instruments; this allows you get up to seven tracks onto the four-track. (They do offer a viable work-around of mixing down a stereo mix onto an external cassette deck, then using the new tape as the basis for the additional tracks.)

FWIW, of the three I prefer the Fostex F-12, as the ''level'' controls for the individual tracks are sliders, rather than knobs: I find this easier for writing down the positions so I can re-create mixes at a later date.

(BTW, to Charlotte: You might want to consider one of these, either for recording your group, or just for self-recording some accompaniment. Two two $80 four-tracks I mentioned can only record with one mic at a time; the $100 can record with two mics at once (if you want to record your group in stereo, or two people at once -- or get fancy with multi-micing or singing and playing at the same time). If you can twiddle the knobs 'n' faders on the radio DJ board, then this shouldn't cause any problem for you.)


Saturday, October 20, 2007


As I -- just now -- typed my (real name) initials to the end of an e-mail, I wondered what it would be like to have initials that spelled some typical ''phrase'' in text-messaging/e-mail shorthand.

Like, if your name was William T. Frankfurt: all your e-mails would end with ''WTF''.

I actually **do** know two people that have initials that stand for typical phrases. I used to work in a billing/claims department, and when people's bills came back with bad addresses, we'd type ''NKA'' (No Known Address) in their file.

And I know someone who has a potentially insulting set of initials -- which I only realized maybe five years ago.

His/her e-mails probably go something like this:

[Name of boss]:

Hey, great presentation today!


Hopefully he doesn't really e-mail his boss like this. Although: it's the perfect cover...


Friday, October 19, 2007

I see the future

Here's my prediction for thirty years from now. Nah, I'll say twenty years from now:

The current trend is for people to download music instead of buying the physical medium (e.g. compact disks), such that much (more than half?) of the music sold today never sees a physical form.

But that's not yet the case for movies and t.v. shows (YouTube not withstanding). However, this is due -- I reckon -- to limitations of bandwidth and storage.

In twenty years, people won't bother to own DVDs, or Blue-Ray, or whatever else. Instead, there will be two main modes of storing one's video footage. Most folks will just subscribe to a video service. This will be a massive online repository of movies, t.v. shows, and what-not: much like YouTube, but with better video quality (full resolution!). This service will be about US$20/month in today's dollars -- but will be bundled with your internet connection service, so the cost won't be noticed. There's no need to actually store anything, as it's all ''on tap''.

And, for folks that have more obscure tastes -- or who generate a lot of home movies -- there will be an online repository for a reasonably small fee (US$5/month?) where you can save copies of your obscure art films, home movies, and etcetera. You **could** save them to your home network -- but this allows you to ''tap in'' to your collection when you're, for example, over at a friend's place and want to show off some obscure find.

Both of these options will come with some sort of ''bookmarks'' or ''favorites'' listing, so people can remember what the heck was the name of that movie they liked (the one with the chicken!), out of the mega-thousands of movies in the collection.

Yeah: twenty years. Thirty at the latest.

I'll be 58 (or 68). And I'll **still** have boxes and boxes of VHS video taped t.v. shows... :)


Thursday, October 18, 2007

The magic of seeds

Maybe two months ago, I saved all my orange seeds over the course of a few days, soaked them in hot water like you're supposed to, and planted them in a half-milkjug (cut the long way) with holes I poked in the bottom.

I put it outside... watered it once or twice... and then totally forgot about it for about a week. When I finally remembered it, I rushed out to look at it, and the dirt was completely dried out. Shoot.

But, rather than dump it out, I kept it. But I paid more attention to the watering schedule, and I moved it behind some other potted plants so that it only received direct sunlight in the morning -- to keep the dirt from drying out too fast.

Then we had about a week and a half of rain every 2-3 days, so I didn't bother hand-watering the outdoor plants.

Went to check on it -- and we gots sprouts!!!

This-all is reminiscent of my post back in March, about my grown-from-scratch mango plants. :) They're both still alive, although one is clearly happier than the other: the other one has clearly been feeding some bugs with its leaves.

Also, an update on the two orange trees that I'm growing from seed, from about a year ago. They're both still chugging along -- slowly, yeah... but chugging none-the-less. My hand is in the photo as a size reference.


Saucy lad

Just about an hour ago, I was cooking up some plain curly noodles, and thought: hey! I like white sauces. Got out my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (with the red and white plaid cover) that my parents gave me back in 1992, and followed the instructions.

Seemed to work.

My first white sauce! :)


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


When I'm in the car, I'm usually listening to music. And I'm usually alone, or with The Girl (who isn't yet a conversationalist).

Yesterday I realized that I should bring a set of drumsticks with me in the car: something to do at stoplights.

You should be able to pick up a cheap pair at your local music store for -- what, ten bucks? Fifteen bucks?

Less cumbersome than a guitar. And if you're driving in Canada or the U.S. (and you're right-handed), you'd have to stick the guitar neck out the window.

Less fragile than a Casio-style keyboard: If you have to brake suddenly, it's not a worry for the drumsticks to slide off the seat onto the floor.

Of course, I drive an older car -- with a steering wheel cover. If your steering wheel is in nice condition and you don't want to install a punishment-absorbing steering wheel cover, then drumming on the steering wheel probably isn't a good option.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I protest

When I un-mounted my USB key -- my term for a USB flashdrive -- I was amused by the message that Windows provided.

One of these days I need to show up at a protest march wearing a shirt that says "STOP USB Mass Storage Device!!!".

I got a commission for ya, Slag... :)


Good stuff

For about a half hour (roughly 5:30pm-6pm), The Girl and I ran around the roped-in area of the front yard, with me making growling sounds and her squealing with laughter. We'd occasionally stop to blow dandelion puffs.

Good stuff.

Two more on the way. Looking forward to it.

Dad-ness is cool.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Older than thou

I am now officially Old(TM). Was teaching my class today -- a first-year course at a university -- and realized that none of them were alive when I graduated from high school.

I asked 'em, and yep -- confirmed. Except for one lady, who said she'd been alive for half a year.

A room full of people who don't recall a time when cassette decks, not CDs, were the standard mode of playing albums.

Old, old, old... :)


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Weather and music

The weather over the last three days has been great: very Seattle-like, with soothingly cloudy grey skies. Drizzle on some days, pouring rain here and there, and just over-all grey-ness the rest of the time. Good stuff.

The only annoying thing is that at one point the wind blew hard enough -- the rain was 30 degrees -- sometimes 45 degrees -- off vertical -- to wet the misc. open-topped boxes on the porch. Dangit.

Still going thru my ''suitcases'' of tapes. Information Society (with the ''Pure Energy'' song) on the way in to work, and A Flock of Seagulls on the way home.

Given my fondness for '80s-style new wave-y synth-pop (Human League, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, later-era Devo, Yaz, Kraftwerk, InSoc, Flock of Seagulls...), it's interesting that all of my songs thus far are in the ''guitar-rock'' genre. No sequencers, no MIDI. Most have a drum machine, but that's out of necessity, not stylistic intentions. And no synths -- at least not that carry the weight of the song (on two or three songs I have a synth as a melody instrument -- but it's not a synthy-sounding synth, if that makes sense).

Part of this is because the process of sequencing is too fiddly for me: I'd rather just **play** the darned melody. And partly because the stuff I write requires a certain ''swing'', or ''feel'' -- which is **really** difficult to enter in by hand, step by step.


Monday, October 08, 2007

A pair of pipers

So, on Mondays I teach (or technically, lead quiz sections, tutorials, or whatever they call it at your local university).

I was walking across campus, back to The Lady's office, when I heard -- as I have for the last few weeks -- the sound of bagpipes.

In previous weeks it was just one; this time it was two. So -- being a sucker for bagpipes -- I diverged from my original path to go check it out. Two guys, and one of them I vaguely recognized from being from my wife's department on campus.

I stood a few metres away, listening politely. When they finished, I walked up and asked them a few questions: Hey, aren't you in [name of my wife's department]? (Yes.) If I'm just a beginner, would I be disappointed with a AU$500 set of pipes? (No, it works; that's what he's using.) Why can't I get a sound out of the practice chanter my wife bought me for my birthday a few years ago? (Because the sales clerk didn't tell her you also need a mouthpiece.) Are you guys affiliated with some group? (Yep; meets on campus, Tuesday nights.)


Learning how to play the bagpipes has been on my ''To Do'' list since I was about fifteen. And I guess it's yet another item on my ''WIFMD''* list


*(When I Finish My Dissertation)

(Image pinched from

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Tick vs. Fast Food

So, I was standing in line at McDonald's today (ed note: Yeah, we sometimes hit McDonald's. If some competitor wants to serve healthy, non-multinational meals for within 15% of what McD's charges, I would **love** to switch over my business.), and I noticed on the list o' burgers and prices the phrase "TICK APPROVED". Similar to below:

I was deeply amused -- because what popped into my head was this:

"Eat up, chum!!!"

But, really -- I doubt that the Mighty Blue Avenger endorses any sort of fast-food. :)


(P.S. The right people will ''get'' the title...) :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My genius kid

In the interest of my non- kid- having friends, I try moderate my amount of kid-gushings.


Today, she wanted to go outside, but my very pregnant wife wasn't up to supervising her. ''When Daddy gets home...''

The kid wandered down the hall -- into her bedroom to play, thought my wife.

However, The Kid **really** wanted to go outside. And she realized, Hey! the dog gets in and out. So she crawled through the doggie door.

Not bad.

This adds a new dimension to kid-wrangling.

The second thing is that when The Lady picked her up from daycare today, one of the ladies said that when one of the staff plays ''number games'' with her (e.g. by holding up a certain number of fingers), The Kid states the quantity (the number) right off. Other kids her age apparently have to count up to that amount (e.g. counting the fingers to arrive at the total). So, that's advanced for her age group.

Makes up for her slowness in talking, I guess.

She also has really good fine motor skills for her age.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Music musings

A few music musings.

Still going thru my cassettes (I guesstimate I have around 350; I go though about four a night, and maybe eight per day on weekends; and I'm pretty much listening to each one).

Listened to the Peter Schilling album Error in the System. Good, catchy tunes if you like '80s synth-type stuff: if you like Thomas Dolby, you'll probably like this. It has his remake of Bowie's "Major Tom" -- which, IMO is better than the original one (catchier, and less mopey).

I **really** like the song ''Only Dreams'' -- but realized that there's no point in my covering it, because I don't know how I'd change the arrangement to make it my own: it would just end up being a karaoke version of the original: a 95% identical backing track, with my vocs.

The cassette has my dub of my Peter Schilling LP on one side, and my dub of my Yaz Upstairs at Eric's LP on the other. If you like Erasure (I think the instrumentalist guy is the same, just a different vocalist), you'll like Yaz. Again, catchy stuff.

I had a brief e-mail exchange with a friend from college, who doesn't listen to albums any more -- regardless of the format (LPs, cassettes, CDs) -- and doesn't like any of the new music. I've heard it said that people's musical tastes ossify at about the time the leave college -- so I'm desperately fighting against that.

Although, technically, I haven't yet left college... (Lingering Ph.D. Dissertation...)


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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cognitive processes of libs and conservs

Well, I usually don't write overtly political blog entries, but my dad forwarded this link to a news article about a psych experiment that demonstrates the differing cognitive processes between self-reported liberals and self-reported conservatives.

Like many psych experiments (and medical studies) that make it to the popular press, the avowed conclusions go beyond the actual empirical findings -- but basically it's that compared to political liberals, political conservatives are more likely to generalize and lump things together, thus overlooking things that don't fit the larger pattern.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Someone else's brilliant blog entry

Actually, maybe I shouldn't call it ''brilliant'', because then you'll have super-high expectations and you'll be all critical and won't enjoy it as much.

How 'bout this: It's pretty good, with good insights, and worth a read. :)

It's here.