Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Not bleeding

Like a lot of little kids, The Girl likes wearing band-aids, for the placebo effect: you bump your knee, stub your toe, whatever: a band-aid makes it feel better.

However, despite having a band-aid on nearly every day (the specific location changes day by day), she must not have ever cut herself -- which is kind of interesting, given that she's four years old.

Yesterday she got a paper cut. Today it re-opened, and was bleeding pretty well. Instead of saying “I have a cut”, or “I”m bleeding”-- she said “I’m leaking”.

Which... is true.

Good use of language.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Books and keyboard

Two noteworthy things today.

First, I went to the campus library to pick up a whole pile of books. A week ago, the library administration had sent around an e-mail that, starting Monday of this week, teaching staff could go look at their stash of books that are being surplussed. The following week it would be open to other staff; and the week after, to students.

So, lovin' the books, I showed up around noon on Monday, and had a look. A lot of 1970s woodworking magazines (??!!), but they weren't very good. But, a lot of other stuff as well. Wrote my name, phone number, and e-mail address on a slip of paper as per instructed, and brought my piles and piles o' books up to the front counter. The guy at the counter said they'd let me know when they'd removed them from the system.

A day or two later, they e-mailed me to say the books were ready. So today, I borrowed the departmental handtruck, and picked 'em up.

Fifty-six books, plus or minus. About four and a half feet tall, if you stacked 'em (about 1.4 metres). All for me... all for free!!! (Well, actually, some of them for for The Lady.)

A lot of research methods books; a dictionary of ballet(!) terms; a book of quotes; a book about the musings of B. F. Skinner (famous behavioral psychology guy); a Germish-English dictionary (sure...!!!); the psychology of travel (including motion sickness, pilot disorientation, and etc.); a dictionary of the world's religions; some developmental psych textbooks (for The Lady); some classics of criminology; and some psych books on cognitive and personality testing procedures (e.g. I.Q. tests, the MMPI).

The other noteworthy event is that my ''up-arrow'' on my keyboard at work spontaneously ceased working. I contacted the I.T. folks, who e-mailed back that it's a ''known issue'', and they're getting a new keyboard from Dell in a day or two.

Meanwhile: I'd never realized how much I use the ''up-arrow'' key!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Best songs -- I guess

Here in Aussie-land, there's a t.v. show called ''20 to 1'', where they count down the twenty best ''whatever'': best celebrity scandals; events that shaped Australia; biggest political blunders; whatever. Sometimes I watch it, sometimes I don't: my decision is usually based on whether it's about music (e.g. ''20 best love songs''), or it tells me more about Australia (as I'm still getting a feel for things...).

This week, it was ''the 20 best songs of the decade'' (essentially 1998-ish to 2008).

I'm not sure how they judge ''best'' -- but out of the twenty songs, I'd **knew** five; one that I hadn't ever heard was worth my chasing up sometime; and the remaining fourteen I was indifferent to.

There were all top-ten singles, number-one hits, or bazillion-sellers. But, for me: ''meh'' to most of them.

Not sure if that means (1) I'm old; (2) popular musical tastes have shifted; or (3) there haven't been any truly innnovative, amazing songs that have been unleashed on the mainstream public in the last ten years. If #3 is true, then that might explain why record sales are down: it's not that people are illegally downloading mp3 files; it's that the recent crop of songs have been fairly lacklustre and uninspiring.


Monday, September 22, 2008

My super-power

As I was reminded this afternoon, I have the ability to make dogs pee.

But, not all the time: just when they sense that I'm annoyed at them.

And actually, not all dogs: just our dog.

So really, I have the ability to make our dog wet – just a little bit – when he thinks he's in trouble and I'm about to reprimand him. Which makes it a pretty limited super power, actually.

I guess it's my ''alpha male'' pherenomes, or something: I was just going to pick him up and put him outside – I wan't even going to yell at him – and I was trying to be all casual about it. But I guess he sensed my deeper emotion.

By the way, my maximum lifting ability with one arm, in an overhead press (i.e. standing up, pushing from shoulder height, straight up) is now at 31.5kg – which is 69 or 70 pounds. I'm pleased. I supposse that means that if I know any 140 lb. people that want to lie across my head while I'm standing, I can lift them...

My eventual goal is to be able to ''dip'' myself, while leaning against a wall, upside-down. From this, I hope to be able to learn how to walk on my hands.


(Image is from some blog entry about his baby spitting up on the floor)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Almost computer

As I've mentioned before, some middle-aged guys buy the car they wished they'd owned in high school or college, but couldn't afford. I'm doing the same thing, but with computers: things like Commodore 64's, Apple II+'s, and the such.

(Yes, I know that technically there's no apostrophe when you're making a plural – but the '' ' '' offsets the ''s'' from the model number. Otherwise ''Commodore 64s'' would look like I wanted a ''Commodore 64-S''...)

So, in Saturday's paper, there was an Amstrad portable computer for $20 – one of those ''suitcase'', ''luggable'' jobbies, with the teeny screen the size of your hand, and the keyboard that doubles as a lid to the case. I phoned the seller, but it turns out that some other guy was supposed to come by, although he hadn't yet showed. So, I said I'd call back tomorrow (i.e. today) to see whether he'd come by; he had: was really excited about it.

Ah well – at least it went to a good home. :)

There was also a Commodore Amiga for a hundred bucks, including the printer. But, those come along more often – every three to six months, it seems, for a similar price.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

A nice compliment

After lecture on Friday, a student approached me to tell me that my lectures are one of the few she'll actually get out of bed for.

I glanced up at the clock. ''Uh -- but we start at eleven,'' I said.

''Yep!'' she replied, brightly. ''That's early for me.''

Still -- a nice compliment. :)


Friday, September 19, 2008

Bad hair day? NO hair day!

So, Wednesday the 17th -- just a few days ago -- my hair was so shaggy that I finally got around to giving myself a trim with the hair clippers with the plastic spacer on it.

As we've done the last time or two, The Girl (recently turned 4 y.o.!) helped me: I sat on the floor of the bathroom, and she shaved (most of) my head.

Then I tidied up the sections that The Girl had missed, and I took off the spacer so I could shave the back of my neck. I considered asking The Lady to do it -- but she was otherwise occupied, so I figured I'd start in.

That was, it turns out, an error. I ended up with a bit of an ''inlet'' on the hairline across my neck. I tried fixing it, but just made it worse. By the time The Lady arrived, it was pretty much past rescuing.

So, I went all the way (see photos).

I'd been meaning to do this for a few years, now -- just to see what my head is shaped like.

Now I know. :)

(Hm: In the second photo, the softness around my middle is starting to show in the softness around my jaw and cheeks. I should start watching my diet... maybe exercise a bit.)

Well -- it **is** getting towards summer -- and I always wear a hat outdoors, anyhow (scalp protection from the sun). But indoors, it's **very** cool up there!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Super hero religions

There's apparently a web page for just about **everything** on the web.

While doing a Google image search for drawings of Daredevil (for some lecture slides -- wanted an example of a vigilante), I stumbled across a web page showing the religion of super-heroes.

Apparently, Superman (or rather, Clark Kent) is Methodist. And the Incredible Hulk is a non-practicing Catholic. Huh.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Enjoyable obscure album


Album: Elemen Opee Elpee (1986)

Light, enjoyable, tuneful '80s college radio pop, with reasonably intelligent lyrics, without being ''intellectual'' about it. :)

Bought the LP in the ''Misc New Wave'' bin at the local used record store, in my early college days. Dubbed it to cassette, and listen to it now and again. Good stuff -- to my ears. YMMV.

More info here, and here, and here.

Apparently available here. (And possibly here.) (Note that according to one of the reviews, his stuff gets darker and grittier in the later albums...)

Spooky that I actually did these searches on 9/16/08, American-time -- and the second link (to the blog entry) was for the same day, but two years ago -- and also on a Blogspot-hosted blog. Spooky!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seemed like spring today

I know that the official ''first day of Spring'' happened a few weeks(?) ago -- but today felt like the real first day of spring! Worked from home today, with most of the windows open. The air was warm, but not hot; filled with lovely scents of growing and flowering.

**Much** more enjoyable than working in an air-conditioned office...! (Like I usually do.)


Monday, September 15, 2008


I enjoy haggling for a better deal; The Lady doesn't.

A good quote on haggling, from this weekend's paper
(Mike O’Connor's “Back Chat” column, p. 54, Courier-Mail, QWeekend section):

“Haggling, alas, has never been one of my strengths. As a result of my refusal to bargain in places like Bangkok, I have probably been ripped off to the tune of at least $20 by people who earn less in a year than I earn in a week.”


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Potentially good zombie board game

In a recent post from Wil Wheaton's website, he recommends a ''zombies invade a small town'' board-based role-playing game. I haven't thoroughly read the website -- but certainly, it sounds like it has potential. I'll likely pick it up, one of these days.

For a while, I was into a wide variety of board games. Haven't touched it for a while (been busy). But will probably get back in to it when the kids are old enough (8 y.o.?).


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Friday, September 12, 2008

Three linguistic differences

Three things that Aussies (and maybe Brits) say that Americans might mis-interpret -- or vice-versa.

1) The Lady was watching some ''home makeover'' show, and the hosts mentioned they had given the homeowner some ''pot plants''. Here in Aussieland, that means ''potted plants'' -- i.e. plants in flowerpots. Not the ganja.

2) When tell someone you'll go 'round to her house and knock her up this afternoon, you're actually just paying her a visit (i.e. knocking on her door). In the U.S., it means "to impregnate''.

3) When Americans often say they're ''rooting for their favorite team'', they mean that they're cheering them on. In Aussieland, ''to root'' means ''to fornicate'' (note: an uncultured way of saying it).

Just some clarifications, there.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting yer geek on

Oooh! Purty!!!

Thinking about getting this book (pictured) for myself, out of some grant money. Could come in handy.

Follow the link and click on the cover of the book at Amazon's site to take a look at the table of contents. Doesn't it just make you want to pee...?

Not that I'll understand the math: I'm into it more for the "how to" aspects.

Bonus: My wife will probably ask to borrow it. Now that's HOT...!!!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More linguistic

The Lady says The Girl has been using this turn of phrase for a week or so -- but tonight was the first I'd heard it.

I was going to run a quick errand, and The Girl wanted to go with me. But, she needed to put her shoes on.

I asked her if she was going to wear socks. She said, “I don’t have socks on. I have feet!”

That is, bare feet, inside the shoes.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Interesting Discussion Board question


On our course Discussion Board, one of my students asked, "I am interested in your current guitar set up, and a fellow course member and I can't decide if you would rock a Flying V or a Strat."

And another one asked,

Hi there, I'm just wondering what kind of pedals and effects you use Travis? Perhaps you don't use any at all and are a pioneer of pure unadulturated tone? Maybe I'm completely off the mark and you're a modern shoegazer.

Furthermore, are you a marshall, orange or VOX kind of guy? And have you found a correlation between playing a marhsall amp and criminality? Moreover, who would be in your 'perfect' band (allowing both the living and deceased)?

Not surprisingly, both posted as Anonymous. :)

I could've just ignored those questions. But -- here's my reply:


(Okay - **that's** a new one that hasn't been asked on a Discussion Board!!!)

My first, favorite guitar was a Ibanez Roadstar II -- which I named "Gypsy". Two humbuckers, whammy bridge which I hard-bolted to the body (never used it; locking down the bridge reduced tuning issues).

Sadly, it was lost in a burglary, just a few months after we moved to Brisbane.

I'm pretty agnostic on guitars. I try to have a wide range to choose from, to suit different purposes (different sounds). I tend to be a "bottom feeder" (i.e. <$300), and go more for "interesting looks" and "character" than "brand name".

Thus, no Fender Strats or Flying V's (although they're on my "To Get" list).

However, a fake Les Paul, two fake Strats, a fake Telecaster, a fake Jackson, a weird '70s cheapy Japanese, and a few others. Plus three acoustic guitars, three electric basses, and some other weird stuff (banjo, balalaika, a Chinese lute thingy...).

No hollow-bodies yet, for some reason...

Effects pedals: Love 'em! Like guitars, I have a bit of a palette of pedals - mostly various flavors of distortion, fuzz, overdrive... Mostly DOD or cheaper.

Amp tone: so far, I've only played through solid-state. Just after I bought my tube head, I got preoccupied with my Thesis, and then having kids. Haven't played for a few years.

However, I do have a preference for Gorilla amps over Peavey.

I need to sit down and try Marshalls, Orange, Vox, etc.: I can't honestly say. But I tend to get my sound through pedals, more than the amp.

Marshall amp and criminality: Possibly. Maybe I should apply for a grant... :)

Perfect band: Jerry Agustnyk (drums, 10,000 Maniacs); most of the guys from The Smithereens; Buddy Holly; a lady named Vanessa Veselka who was the singer/songwriter/guitarist from a Seattle band called "Bell", which is one of my all-time favorite bands, but never went anywhere; my cousin (we were in our first band together).

Bell: -- various mp3 links on the yellow column on the right!!!


Sunday, September 07, 2008

A pleasant Father's Day

Here in Aussie-land, today (Sunday) was Father's Day.

Had a nice day. Went to church, came home, planted potatoes with The Girl (who seemed a little non-plussed when the plants didn't immediately start sprouting). Did some ''around-the-yard'' stuff, including cutting a hole in the front fence to try out a new location for our front gate: we're still figuring out where exactly we want our driveway.

Also mowed the doggie yard: when the grass gets too long and starts tickling his butt, he's less willing to go outside to ''do his business'' in the dewy morning, and on rainy days.

Had takeaway pizza for dinner -- at my request -- with plently left over for lunch tomorrow.

The kids got me the Flight of the Conchords (Season 1) DVD, and The Lady got me two guitar effects pedals and a book on Ju-Jitsu. I'll watch an episode or two tonight, before going to bed. :)

Didn't touch my Dissertation today, 'cause -- you know: Father's Day.

Good stuff; great kids; good to be a Dad. :)


Friday, September 05, 2008

Addendum to recording analogy

1) Back when I was actually recording songs: once I knew the specific arrangement, the **recording** process (programming the drum machine; choosing and setting up gear; laying down tracks; mixdown) took almost exactly eight hours per song.

I'm hoping that this means that once the kids are a little older, and my gear is once again set up, that I can knock out a song per weekend -- or even, per fortnight (i.e. two weeks). All it requires is an hour or two during a few weeknight evenings, or during the weekend.

If I manage to get in two hours on Saturday, and two on Sunday, then that's one song a fortnight, or two songs a month. If you figure that a typical album is 8-12 songs, then every four to six months I'll have produced an album's worth of stuff.

Assuming I have songs already written. :)

2) Dang, I miss that stuff.


Recording an album is like writing a book

I've had this idea floating around in my head for a while: finally decided to lay out out on paper (well, virtual paper).

Most people don't understand the stages of the recording process -- but I figure most folks have a sense of what writing a book is about. Or, more correctly, most folks -- at least the ones reading this blog -- have written "stuff" with a word processor.

Of course, I've never written a novel -- so that side of my analogy may be incorrect. But, anyhow:

At the writing (recording) stage, you write a lot of words and sentences (record a lot of notes and melodies). Although you try to get them how you want them the first time around, mostly it's just getting the ideas on the page (sounds on tape or hard drive): you know you can rearrange things at a later stage. You might even write a few different versions of the same paragraph (record different ''takes'' of the same riff or melody), with the idea that you'll choose the best version later -- or even cannibalize different versions to produce one ''best'' version (in recording, this is called ''comp-ing'': short for ''making a composite'').

Once you've written the basic words (recorded the basic tracks), the editing (mixing) stage begins. This is where things get tightened up, and the basic raw materials (the written words//recorded tracks) get massaged into the final content. (Note that I said content -- not the exact form. That comes later.) Some bits that you spent a lot of time on, and seemed brilliant at the time, turn out to be a distraction from the main point you're trying to make. So, they get excluded -- edited out. But, that's o.k. -- if it makes a stronger whole.

You're also looking at the product as more of a whole: adjusting the relative emphasis on, for example, one character's description versus another (one instrument's loudness over another). And, you might change a few things in a subtle manner that most readers (listeners) wouldn't notice, but someone in the business might: strategically messing with the grammar (a music genre's stylistic conventions or expectations), or adding or subtracting a few adjectives and adverbs (playing with studio effects, such as echo, distortion, flanging, etc.).

Finally, you get to the formatting and layout (mastering) stage. This is where the content (the words//the musical notes) are already in place, but the presentation (font, layout; final EQ and compression) are applied. Among other things, each chapter (song) is made consistent in terms of font and layout (volume, compression, and over-all ''tone'') to all the other chapters (songs) in the book (album). Of course, sometimes you'll intentionally have some of the chapters (songs) presented in a clearly different style, in order to make it stand out from the others: but this is done intentionally, to serve the larger artistic vision (for example, when the chapters [songs] alternate between two different points of view).

And finally, you fix the final product into its physical form, by publishing the book (pressing the record or burning the CD). Although in this modern world, the final product won't necessarily reach a physical form, but instead end up as an e-book (downloadable music file), or perhaps a *.pdf file (*.mp3 or *.ogg-vorbis file).

Of course, even though writing (recording, laying down tracks), editing (mixing), and layout (mastering) are inter-related, they are nonetheless distinct skill-sets. Some people are really good at one stage, but not so good at another. For example, someone who's a really good writer (performer) may not be a good editor (engineer/producer); and a good writer (performer) may not be any good at formatting (mastering) the final product. And, that's o.k. :)


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thomas Dolby - review of three albums

So, on the strength of one Thomas Dolby album, which I really like, I picked up two more for cheap.

The Golden Age of Wireless (1982) -- The first one of the lot, and the best of the lot. Has the famous "She Blinded Me with Science" (!!!) song. To someone like myself who likes '80s synth-y new wave, I like all the tracks. Some more than others, of course -- but three or four are definitely what I'd call "catchy" and "memorable". Those are my two key criteria: if many hours later, you find snippets of the song drifting through your head, that's a good thing.

The Flat Earth (1984) -- Disappointing. Gentle, but forgettable (as opposed to, say, gentle and haunting). Some are "light funk" -- and reminded me of those Bruce Willis solo albums...

Aliens at My Buick (1988) -- Also disappointing. Innocuous; uninspired; forgettable.

He seems to have abandoned groovy synth stuff, and forgotten how to write catchy songs. The other (later!) two albums are generic, by-the-numbers.

BUT -- go get The Golden Age of Wireless if you like the '80s synth-y new wave stuff!!! :)


Monday, September 01, 2008

Wordplay on anti-inoculation

According to some fliers that are occasionally placed in the parents' room at our local mall, and the occasional news story on the semi-legitimate news programs, there's a small movement of parents who think inoculations cause more problems than they prevent.

I won't go in to why this is based on flawed understandings of science and statistics (but if someone feels like rattling my cage, in the Comments section, I'll probably be drawn in).

Instead, I just wanted to share my recent discovery that "needles" and "needless" are only one character different.

To my knowledge, no one in the ''anti-inoculation" movement has seized on this as a punchy slogan:




Wouldn't that make a nifty bumper sticker, campaign button, t-shirt design, and etc.?

And -- that's my creative think-thing for the day.