Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Methods of music

I've not been playing much music lately -- mostly just pondering it in the car.

This morning's insight:

There's basically four ways of making sound with musical instruments. Hitting something; blowing through a pipe; vibrating a string; or using a keyboard.

(That bit isn't original: the division of musical instruments into chordophones, ideophones(?), and etc. is pretty standard.)

Between taking the violin in 4th grade, and playing the guitar and electric bass, I'm comfortable with stringed instruments. I can ''wing it'' pretty well on banjos, ukes, and etc: get the string to vibrate, and then fret or stop the string at different lengths to get different pitches; go up and down, and/or side to side to access different notes; it's usually possible to play the same note in different positions.

I'm comfortable with the drums. Maybe it's my being in fifth grade band and being the snare drum guy. (I was soooo dissapointed that when I signed up for ''drums'' in band, it wasn't an actual kit.)

And because I taught myself to play the alto recorder, and then dabbled with various brass instruments, I feel comfortable with the concept of wind instruments: different fingerings cause different notes; your breath controls the duration of the note (and the attack and decay).

But keyboard instruments: for some reason, they just don't resonate with me. They're incredibly useful: if you can play the keyboard, you can play a MIDI synth, which basically means you can "fake" just about any instrument. But the whole notion of generating a different sound with just the push of a button (the key on the keyboard) -- and each finger (or thumb) can independently make a sound -- that's pretty powerful.

One of these days I'll practice more on the keyboards.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Sadly, not a Master of THE Arts

Filling in some employment forms. I had to go look at my resume to find out when I got my M.A.

Sadly, it's a ''Master of Arts'' -- not a ''Master of the Arts'' or a ''Master of Martial Arts''. 'Cause that would be really cool.

(photo is of O-Sensei, the founder of Aikido)

Speaking of martial arts and certification: check out this guy's credentials. (Look halfway down, under "Position and Rank". He says he holds:

(1) A Ph.D. in the martial arts; (2) a Ph.D. in the Self-Defense Studies; and (3) a Doctor of Budo.

As someone pursuing a Ph.D. myself, and who's also dabbled a bit (more reading than taking classes, I'm afraid), I question this. Strange that he doesn't list the university he got the Ph.D. and doctorate from. More to the point: I wasn't aware of any accredited universities -- at least in the States -- that have departments of martial arts, self-defense studies, or Budo. Plus, as Ph.D. suggests that he wrote a Dissertation (or at least, published four or five peer-reviewed articles, and then got a doctorate through publication). Did he **really** write **two** Ph.D. Dissertations???

I'm a bit skeptical.


(Addendum: A brief Google search shows that, at The World College of Martial Science -- which isn't an institution of higher learning, but rather a martial arts organization -- under the section headed "Doctorate & Professorships":

"The World College of Martial Science Doctorate Program (DP) allows you to earn a (Ph.D/MS) degree, Doctor of Philosophy, specializing in Martial Science. This special degree is not to be confused with the traditional university (Ph.D) degree. The Ph.D/MS degree is unique and exclusively presented to martial artist only for life long study (30 years minimum or more) in the martial arts. [...]

"[...] The Doctor or Professor does not have to have a school or learning facility and may be engaged in instruction either academically or vocationally in any institutional or corporate environment."

So, in other words: It's an honorary title -- which is misleading, as folks with honorary degrees (e.g. Bill Cosby) are supposed to be "Doctor"; "Ph.D." is **supposed** to be reserved for folks who actually went to graduate school.

It's like someone going around with "M.D." after their name. They're not a medical doctor; their fraternal lodge just awards people a "M.D." if they're in charge of first aid.

BETTER EXAMPLE: Someone who puts "Olympic gold medalist" on their resume. Then it turns out it was their summer camp olympics, and he won his gold medal in tug-o'-war. Not only is this misleading, it's insulting to **real** Olympic gold medalists.

As someone who's grinding away, trying to finish his Dissertation, I resent these folks calling themselves "Ph.D." It cheapens it -- and it shows they have no clue about what it's all about.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Tara would have appreciated this

As I walked across the university campus, on my way to my car, I heard bird calls -- then heard a flurry of wings as a bird flew over my head and landed on a branch maybe six feet away. Some sort of parrot! Mostly orange, but with a bright green chest.

Speaking as a boy from Seattle: seeing a parrot outside a cage, and outside a zoo, and close enough that I could jump up and touch it (hypothetically; it would've flown away) is just... wacky.

Pretty spiffy. What I get for living in a sub-tropical zone.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beauty guitar

Now this is the guitar that I need to come across in a pawn shop. For $150.

Green... and with character.

(For the record, it's a custom job from Tomkins Guitars, an Aussie guitar maker. The guitar is from some Country singer guy named Gary Allan.)


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good meaning of life quotes

More quotes from the Daredevil graphic novel.


I remember that the Chief said that his [vision] quests involve asking himself three questions. “Who am I?” “What have I become with the who that I am?” and “Why am I here?”

(Maya Lopez, in the Daredevil: The Man Without Fear series “Echo – Vision Quest”, story and art by David Mack, #53)


The way the Chief told me, the story goes like this.

This guy, [...] he was a good guy, but I think he had some problems in the past. [...]

And in describing his inner struggles, he says to the Chief, "There are two dogs inside me. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good.

“The mean dog fights the good dog all the time."

And when I heard that, I really understood this guy.

I knew that the one dog was like your dreams and good intentions. He is full of purpose. And order.

He maybe represents your respect for others and your respect for yourself. Respect for what you can do if you put your heart into it.

And the other dog... he has no respect for anything.

He's like a rabid beast. Crazy and self-indulgent. He blames everyone else for his sickness. He lashes out at every opportunity. He loves nothing but wallowing in the hot darkness of his anger.

So someone asks this guy [...] a question. Someone asks him which do usually wins.

And the guy sort of looks down and thinks about it for a while. He doesn't say anything for a long time.

And after a moment's reflection, he answers.

He says this. He says, 'The dog that wins is the one that I feed the most.' ”

(Wolverine/Logan, in the Daredevil: The Man Without Fear series “Echo – Vision Quest”, story and art by David Mack, #55)


(Image source : -- nasty stuff!!!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some good creative-folks quotes

While supervising The Girl during her nightly bathtime, I sit in a chair next to the bathtub and read.

I got two good quotes from today. Both are aimed at storytellers -- but you could substitute the word "songwriter" or "artist", and the meaning still applies.

“You never know how much people get from your stories. How it affects them in the long run. Gives them food for thought, to help them in the future or just inspire them. Motivate s them to find their purpose.
“Stories are magic.
“Once you breathe life into a story it takes on a life of its own. It gets passed on. Renamed. Retold. It becomes its own creature.
“Sometimes the story will even come back to you. Tell you things in tis own words.”
“The story may have grown and evolved in little ways so that more people can understand it than those who you originally told it to.”
--The Shaman on the Rez, in the Daredevil: The Man Without Fear series “Echo – Vision Quest”, story and art by David Mack, #53

“I think of my father. Remembering all the animal stories he told me. The lessons that were in the stories. He didn't tell me what the lessons were. He let me figure them out. He asked me if I learned anything from the story.
“And when I told him my interpretations, he smiled. He didn't say if I was right or wrong. He let me see my own lessons in the story, even if they weren't the ones other people might see.”
--Maya Lopez, in the Daredevil: The Man Without Fear series “Echo – Vision Quest”, story and art by David Mack, #53


Monday, November 19, 2007

Desireable laptop, weak website

My buddy Slag would have words with the designers of the ASUS computer company: their website is 'toopid when it comes to providing a potential customer (me!) with the information I want.

I read in the weekly "technology" section of the local newspaper about this laptop that's supposed to be available in AU around December. It's the ''Eee PC'', made by ASUS. It's priced at AU$500 (dunno what the US version costs, but based on the usual exchange rate, probably 85% of that), uses flash memory (like yer USB key has) instead of a hard drive (quieter, and less power consumption), and runs on Linux (although Windows Vista is available, if you wanna pay extra).

The article includes the website ( for more info -- so I go and check it out. However, the info is not yet posted on the company's Aussie site: a major oversight, given that they're clearly sending out press releases. (I even use the webpage's ''search'' function. No dice.)

So, I Google it -- which results in the main (U.S.) corporate site. I find the page (as linked to above) -- but darned if I can find the specs like the hard drive (or flash drive, I suppose) capacity, the RAM, or the processor speed. Or even what ''flavor'' of Linux they're using: one of the standard distros, or one they've built themselves.

Way to dampen my enthusiasm for your product!!!

I'm still interested: but 30% less jazzed about it.


Addendum: Just after I posted this, I went back to the page. Earlier, I'd been hovering the mouse pointer over the ''Specification'' (shouldn't that be plural? ''Specs'', not ''Spec'') button , but the ''hand'' hadn't appeared, which indicated to me that it wasn't an actual link. This time, on a whim I clicked on it, and it does indeed take me to a page with technical info.

That said, it's pretty limited. Says the OS is Linux -- but not what distro. 512MB of RAM. 4GB of ''SSD'' (Solid-State Disk). 7 inch display. Estimated 3.5 hour battery life (which, given the lack of a HD seems a little low: my wife's laptop already does that, and that's without an optional second battery. And it gives the weight (0.92kg), but not the dimensions (how hard would that have been? Just one more row in the ''Specs'' table.)

So, still not impressed. Lacklustre.

Addendum #2: Oh, even BETTER! Under the link for "downloads", I also found a tree with additional specs. According to the tree (under Linux: others), it says "
Debain 4.0". Gar. To you non-Linux folks, that's like calling it ''Windows Vister''. (I think they mean ''Debian"...)


Addendum #3: In my attempt to be a nice guy, I tried the ''contact us'' link at the bottom of the page. I chose to contact the web team. I clicked on the link -- and got this error message.

There's a certain irony in the "contact the webmaster regarding errors" link... of an I.T. company's website -- to have an error.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hulk's brother

Came across this photo (some weightlifter guy named Simon) by accident, while searching the web for something else.

My first thought: "HULK SMASH!!!"

My second thought: "I wonder if he uses steroids...?"


Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy birthday to me

This was possibly my best birthday, ever. Even though it was pretty low-key. (A sign that I'm old...?)

Treated myself to mowing the lawn!!! Also played w/ The Girl. At my request, no actual birthday party -- but my in-laws stopped by in the afternoon and hung out for a bit (and gave me my presents).

Had pizza for dinner. Possibly my favorite dinner.

Possibly my best present was this marble ramp thing, which included a battery-powered conveyor belt. From The Lady. Not the one pictured, but conceptually like that. The Girl and I have played with the marble ramp set for many hours since my birthday. :)


More cognitive

An exchange between The Girl (3yo) and myself:

Me, putting socks on her: "Hey! You have the flat feets like Daddy!"

Her: "No. I have lid-del feet like me."


Saturday, November 10, 2007

A lotta brass

So, we were running errands today -- as we do most Saturdays -- and at Big W (like Target or K-Mart) there was a Salvation Army brass quintet, playing Christmas carols.

(Yeah, it seems a little early for Christmas carols. But the Christmas decorations are already up in the stores. Could be 'cause Aussies don't have Thanksgiving to space things out a bit.)

I recognized two of the instruments as being a coronet and a trombone -- both of which I own. And I was pretty sure the biggest one was a tuba (pictured above left). But I had to ask the guys what the other two were.

One was a euphonium. Almost as low as a tuba. Pictured below.

The other was a flugelhorn. Had less loops than the coronet, and thus is geared for the higher pitches. And indeed, it tended to play busy countermelodies over the coronet's main lines. (However, a Wikipedia search indicates it's actually pitched the same as a trumpet and coronet...) Pictured below.

According to a quick Wikipedia search, the three instruments pictured are conical-bore instruments, which means that the diameter of the tubing gradually gets wider as the tube progresses towards the bell. In contrast, the trumpet and the trombone (again, which are what I own) are cylindrical-bore. The difference in the bore impacts the tone: conical-bore instruments have a softer, warmer, gentler tone, whereas the cylindrical-bore instruments have a brighter (potentially harsher) tone.

So: Three more instruments that I need. Of course.

But not this week.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Shower opera

I tend to have random thoughts while I'm taking a shower.

Today, I was singing in the shower, in my best quasi-operatic voice. Discovered that if you since "celebratory dinner'' that way, "celebratory" sounds very Italian: cella-brah-TOH-ri.

Everybody: "Cella-brah-TOH-ri!!! Cella-brah-TOH-ri!!! Cella-brah-TOH-ri DIH-nah!!!"

(It works better in person than reading it aloud. Trust me on this one. Go try it out....)

Percussively expressive hand and arm gestures add to the effect.

If I had more time, I'd shoot some video and post it, to show you what I mean.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Radio stations for my generation

I was listening to the local radio station ''Triple-M'', in the car. Plays a lot of stuff from the '80s and early '90s.

I thought of two slogans for them:

1) ''The radio station for people who still think they're hip.''

2) ''The radio station for people who don't realize they're old.''


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mostly-trained child

We're trying to teach politeness to our daughter from a pretty early age: easier than trying to overlay it when she's a teenager.

She doesn't always remember to say ''please'' or ''thank you''. But when she forgets, if I put two fingers behind my ear and arch my eyebrow quizzically, she'll add the appropriate phrase.