Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hearing test

One of the advantages of having a son with a hearing impairment is wrangling free hearing tests for yourself.

I noticed that I was tending to listen to the t.v. at loud volumes -- and watch DVDs with the subtitles turned on -- so I wondered if I was experiencing some middle-aged hearing loss. So, the next time we were in for B1's routine hearing appointment, I asked for a hearing test.

The results are pretty average for my age: all within "normal", but with the beginnings of some upper-range rolloff.

According to this, most clarity in speech comes from sounds above 1kHz (i.e. 1,000 Hz and above).

I thumbed through two of my ''home recording'' books, to see if I could find which frequency bands are most responsible for ''clarity'' or ''definition'' in speech. I didn't find a specific frequency band -- although ''s'' is around 5kHz-8kHz.

So, it's possible that some minor hearing loss has led me to jack up the volume. More likely is that the kids are noisy, and that the t.v. in a highly reverberant room (no rugs near the t.v.; lots of flat, acoustically reflective surfaces).


Friday, June 26, 2009

Aspirational relative

I'm probably getting some of the details wrong -- but the point remains:

Soon after my dad started dating my mom, he came along to a family get-together. My great-grandmother (my mom's maternal grandma) was limping: four foot seven, and 78 or 80 years old. Immigrated from Japan, didn't speak any English.

Dad felt sorry for her, and commented on her limp to my mom. My mom snorted, and replied, ''Well, we **told** her not to climb that tree!''

Turns out she'd climbed a tree to prune it, lost her balance, and sprained her ankle.

That's the sort of old person **I** want to be: eighty years old, and still climbing trees.

(Not, however, falling out of them.)


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Japanese illusionist

From an e-mail forward. Worth watching.

(Note that there are several segments -- so watch the whole thing...)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scavenger me

They're building a house a half block away from The Girl's daycare. So, after dropping her off this morning, I pulled up and asked one of the guys if I could take the scrap 2" x 4"s from their dumpster.

I could.

So, filled the trunk up with 2" x 4" scraps, ranging from about 2 ft. to 4 ft. long.

Also grabbed a few offcuts of white PVC pipe, about 6" diameter and 1-1/2 to 2 foot long. I have a collection of them under a tarp in the back yard: will eventually make a simple wooden frame, and fill it with a honeycomb of the pipes (see sketch).

I've heard it's good for storing your scrap dowels and long, narrow wooden scrap (e.g. 1" x 1"; pieces of trim). Keeps 'em sorted, and it makes it easier to take something from the bottom of the pile, as you don't have the whole weight of the entire stack pressing down on the one you want.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Time split

There's a pretty good movie, starring Gwynth Paltrow, called Sliding Doors. (1998). The movie is basically an exploration of how a person's life can diverge into two parallel streams, just by a difference in a single, minor choice (in the movie, it was whether she caught a subway or had to take the next one).

Being (mostly) an optimist, I've always held the view that our lives are made of complex twists and turns, and that it's hard for us to judge -- from our very limited perspective -- whether a ''good'' or ''bad'' event is truly that. Not get hired for a job? It may've sucked. Not get accepted by the university of your choice? If you'd attended, you would've met a very different spouse than the one you ended up meeting in college.

On a grimmer level: yes, it's annoying to lock the door, get to the car, and then realize that you left something inside. But, maybe that two-minute difference means you **didn't** cross paths with that errant semi-trailer, that you otherwise would have.

Who can say?

Today, The Lady and I took separate cars. She needed my help with an errand -- after which, I'd go in to work and she'd run additional errands.

At the last minute, I decided I'd wear a different pair of shoes. So, she went on ahead, while I went back to the bedroom to change my shoes. Then, on my way outside, I decided I should empty the small rubbish bin that we keep on the porch -- so I took it around back to the garbage can.

When I returned to the front yard, I noticed there was a pickup truck parked there. Turns out the soil-testing folks (we need a soil test for the detached garage we want to build) had arrived, and the guy was knocking on my door. If I hadn't changed my shoes... if I hadn't decided to empty the rubbish bin... I would've missed them.

Not crucial to have met up with them, as I'd shown them the proposed building site already. But still, good to touch base with them.

Interesting, though: a matter of minutes.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Dubious perfume name

Actually, I think it was a line of jewelry -- but it's as a-typical as if it was a perfume brand.

(Say it with a throaty whisper, and a French pronunciation): Monogamy

Good possible taglines: ''Keep him home... tonight.'' ''Show her that she is yours.''

Reminds me of, in Zoolander, the ''Derelicte" clothing line -- based on the clothing of homeless people.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flattery from former students

One of the things I like about teaching is running into former students -- both on campus, and around town. It makes me feel like I'm part of a larger community: hey! I know someone!

This last Friday, I ran into a pair of my better students from last year -- had them in one course for first semester, and another course in second semester -- just as I was leaving Target at the local shopping mall. Apparently, they live on this side of town (hence, using the same mall).

They expressed disappointment that I wasn't teaching this year, and they asked me if I was allowed to supervise their Honor's Thesis (basically, a senior project). I had to decline, as I'd been on a one-year contract -- so even though I'm still working on campus, I'm no longer affiliated with that department. Still, it was nice of them to ask: I'm no longer their instructor, so there's no real advantage to suck up to me.

Then, today, I ran across two of my not-as-high-performing students from last year (from memory, they both failed the course). But, they still expressed disappointment that I wasn't the one teaching that course this time around: the new instructor is much stricter, and they're getting **worse** marks (oops!) on their assignments.

Nice to be wanted. One of these days, I'll have an actual, permanent teaching position. It'll be nice to have students for multiple years, as they progress through their degree...


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Only so far

From this weekend, as I was helping my 4 y.o. daughter into the car:

''Daddy, tell me you love me.''

''I love you''

''Say it again!'' (Amused.)

''I love you, honey.''


''I love you very much.''


''Don't push it.''


Monday, June 08, 2009

Time is numbers

Quote from The Girl:

''You don't have to be sad when you don't have lots of numbers, you just have to wait for your birthday.''


Friday, June 05, 2009

Kid quote

Kid quote:

This morning, The Girl (4 y.o.) was brushing my hair.

Then she stepped back, looked at me, and declared, ''You look like Simpsons!''

(Sic - sometimes she forgets the ''the''.)


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Inexpensive quasi-bar clamp

Inspired by reading this blog post: a re-application of using wedges against dogholes on woodworking workbench top to hold work.

The idea is to enable the user to glue up several boards into a large, wide panel (e.g. a workbench top), without having to run out and buy a zillion long clamps.

I'm envisioning lengths of 1" x 4" or 2" x 4", with the end pieces being essentially the same thickness as the panel being glued up. Pound the wedges in to exert clamping force; if the end pieces are as wide as the panel being glued, then the long pieces keep the component aligned. (But you'd want to varnish and/or wax the inside surfaces, to keep 'em from being glued to your workpiece; or, wrap 'em in wax paper, I suppose.

The T-shaped piece is made out of thin plywood, and is inserted between the wedge and the edge of the workpiece, with the smoothest side against the wedge. Its purpose is to minimize the sideways sliding force caused by the wedge sliding sideways against the edge of the workpiece.

This is totally theoretical; never tried it. But, reasonably quick, and (presumably!) inexpensive and effective.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Near-future workbench

As mentioned, I'm finally finished with my Ph.D. My graduation gift to myself was the very excellent (if you're a woodworking geek) book by Christopher Schwarz, Workbenches: from Design & Theory to Construction & Use. (Before you read this book, you should read -- for a larger context -- Scott Landis' The Workbench Book. They aim to do very different things: Landis' book is more of a tour of woodworking workbench types, whereas Schwarz's is about the criteria for a woodworking workbench, and how to get the most out of it.)

Since finishing my Ph.D. (mid-May), my free time hasn't expanded to the extent that I'd hoped: I've been looking after the kids, trying to make up the hours at work that I sacrificed over the last three months, and catching up on around-the-home things I'd neglected. But, I'm still optimistic and ambitious.

One of the tasks at the top of my ''To Do (When I Finish My Diss- ertation)'' list is to build a little 8' x 11' outdoor "transitional" workshop (we're going through city council planning permission -- a long process -- for an eventual three-car garage out back). Once I build the small workshop, I'll be ''inheriting'' my wife's great-grandfather's workbench from her uncle who lives down the road (pictured at left, and below).

Great-Grandpa was a shipwright -- although I believe this was his "at home" bench, so it was probably used for handyman tasks, rather than boatbuilding.

The dimensions are 9.4 ft. long x 23.6'' deep x 35'' high (metric: 2.85m long x 0.6m deep x 0.9m high) -- which are pretty close to the dimensions recommended in Chris Schwarz's book. He recommends a woodworking bench be at least 5 feet long (unless you only build small stuff); about 24'' deep (yup); and about as high as where your pinky connects to your hand (which for me is 31.5'') -- so, a little high (but, I'll try it out and see how it works).

This shot (see left) is a little dark: you may have to adjust your screen's brightness setting to see it -- and maybe click on the photo and zoom in a bit. Although it's an imperfect photo, you can get a sense of the construction of the back: a rear apron, plus a stretcher to tie the legs together.

It's not a perfect workbench, so it'll need some upgrading to optimize it for handtool-oriented woodworking. However, because it's a family ''heirloom'', I don't want to be too invasive in my mods: I want to minimize my hackings and slashings.

Based on Schwarz's book, I'll likely:

-build up the space in front of the legs such that the apron, leg fronts, and stretcher are all in the same plane (the irregularity is visible in the photo below)

-add a leg vice (made of the 4" x 4" post with the house numbers from my wife's grandmother's front gate, before it got "upgraded") on the front left leg

-add a crochet (a checkmark-shaped hook on the front left corner, along the front, for jamming boards into for handplaning)

-add a short-ish sliding deadman, plus peg holes in the front apron, and

-take off the weird "covering" layer

In addition, I'll also write a brief summary (name and approx. date of possession) of the workbench on the underside, in permanent marker or crayon. And I'll put these snapshots, plus others, in an envelope under the workbench: a bunch of "how it originally was" shots. For my descendants -- whoever ends up wanting the bench.

Why am I the one to get the bench? The uncle (apprenticed as a carpenter, but worked as a site supervisor until retirement) is probably giving it to me because I'm the only one in the family that's interested in woodworking. And he says he doesn't truly need it: he's just using it for holding car parts from the vintage cars he's restoring -- and he has an additional, un-used workbench under a tarp, behind his house.