Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Good Christmas present

I bought my first electric guitar in 1988 (I think). Since then -- or perhaps even right from the start -- I've been looking for a green (my favorite color) guitar.

Electric guitar seem to be either black, white, or red. Sometimes blue. But, not green.

Sure, I could just buy a white guitar (lots of them!) and paint it. But that's not quite the same...

I **have** seen the occasional green guitar. But they've been in the $800+ range (oh yeah: I'm a bottom-feeder -- I want inexpensive, used guitars).

BUT!!! -- while doing my bi-monthly check on one of the local pawn shops, I saw a used, inexpensive (<$150!!!) electric guitar. And, as a bonus, the body type and configuration (e.g. dual humbuckers) was essentially the same a Gypsy, my first electric guitar, which had been lost to a buglary around 2004.


Picked it up. It's stashed away, to be a Christmas present from my wife (or the kids?) to me, this Christmas.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Missing food

In a recent e-mail exchange, a friend from Seattle (now in California) asked me if I missed the U.S. I replied just food things, plus some specific people (i.e. family and friends).

Tonight I was reminded of another food item: frozen burritos. Compared to the U.S., not a whole lot of Mexican immigrants to AU (go figure...). So, we're pretty limited as to the Mexican food available. Over the last five(?) years, a mass-market Mexican food supplies (taco shells, burrito wraps, etc.) has finally hit the shelves. But, only one Mexican restaurant that I've seen around here, and no fast food (e.g. Taco Time, Taco Bell).

Back when I lived with Old Roommate, one of my dietary staples was frozen burritos. I'd usually have two for dinner: I'd mix it up between the bean & cheese, beef & bean, and spicy beef (I was never in to the chicken & bean). As I recall, an eight-pack was around five bucks, or maybe less.

Anyhow, tonight was a ''get your own'' dinner, and I missed being able to toss some frozen burritos in the microwave...


Friday, November 27, 2009

Heroes and villians related

Interesting academic article that suggests that heroes and sociopaths are related.

My extension would be that it also applies to super-heroes, and villains.

Basically, that both groups are lacking in impulse control and rule-following: both break the rules, although for different ends (e.g. in 9/11, the firefighters who refused to leave the building), and both act on impulse (supposedly, ultra do-gooders can't help themselves).

Thx to Old Roommate for the link!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rare nails addendum

A reply to my ''scaffolding nails'' question, from an Australian (Tony B), on my WW mailing list:

I'm 57, my dad built a couple of houses, my grandfather built houses and
bridges for a living: lots of wooden scaffolding and concrete boxing /
shuttering, all made on site back in the 1930's to 1960's. I have seen pix of
duplex nails in US magazines, but in the accumulated debris of 3 generations in
the workshop under my house I have not seen one duplex nail, nor have I ever
seen one in Tasmania, full stop. Doesn't mean they were never here, just not

My suggested reasoning for this is that nails hold very well in Aus hardwoods,
even if they aren't driven fully home. The friction on the shank works just
fine. My dad never drove nails flush in temporary work: he always left them
standing sufficiently proud to get a pinchbar claw under the head. Some of
that work was boxing close to 6' high, certainly higher than I was tall as a
late teenager. It held up just fine when the concrete was shot in from the
truck, so the nails were gripping pretty well.

The use of softwood as framing and construction timber is a fairly late
development in Aus, with the notable exception of Sydney where they started
framing in oregon pine many years ago. I can see the need to drive to the head
in softwood, and then the 2nd head would be very handy. In hardwood it isn't
necessary in my limited experience as an observer.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rare nails

In building a ''temporary'' rack (i.e. 5-10 years later I'll make something bigger and better!) to hold my scrap lumber in my new shed. Using duplex/ scaffolding nails, so that when I finally upgrade, it'll be easier to salvage the lumber.

I'm about 80% of the way through building it -- but I used up the box of duplex nails that I've had since the early '90s. Think I picked it up at a garage sale. I'm about fifteen nails short.

Went to my local ''big box'' hardware store, and browsed the nail aisle, looking for a replacement box. Didn't see any. Asked a sales youngster (early 20s?), who didn't know what I was talking about.

Showed him the box (lucky I brought it!), and showed it to an older guy (but still younger than me). Said they didn't carry such a thing.

So, looks like I'll have to go to some tradesperson ''specialty'' store. A Google search found me a place in Brisbane that caters to construction folks -- but I'm not sure I want to buy a 15kig bucket's worth.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dry grass

It's been a fairly dry summer.

This is a snapshot of the portion of our front lawn to where our septic tank drains. You can tell where the drainage pipes are.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Filling up

OK -- the shed is starting to fill up.



More to come... :)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shed's filling up

Well, the shed's filling up nicely. I'm doing the ''slow and steady'' route: I bring over three or five or nine boxes or items an evening, and spend a half hour or hour a day going through boxes, prior to brining them over. Suitcases, boxes of Christmas ornaments, pedestal fans... Also bringing in various pieces of wood from outside, into shelter.

I'm in the process of building some shelving out of scrap 2'' x 4'' s, for tools and scrap lumber and such. Later, I'll build a large shelf for ''storage'' items as well.

I'll post (and take!) a few photos in a bit.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Job interview today

Had a job interview today, for a ''real'' job (full-time, rather than part-time hourly). Seemed to go pretty well.

I find out in about a week. Wish me luck! :)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Preschool guitar demo -- pics

Addendum to the blog entry about playing electric guitar for my daughter's preschool class: Two photos.

You can see the f/x pedals spread out on the table in front of me, and my acoustic guitar on a stand off to my right.

The f/x pedals were on the table partly so the kids could clearly see me tweaking the knobs and turning them on and off.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lawnmowing length

Mowed our lawn today, for the first time in about a month (being Down Under, it's summer here, not winter).

Took me from 3:40pm to 7pm -- three hours and 20 minutes. Granted, that includes running out of gas three times and having to refill, plus stopping to move things out of the way, and pushing away at the overgrown edge areas a bit.

Still -- three hours -- wow!!!

I kept meaning to measure how long it took to mow the lawn, but kept forgetting to note the start time. Now I know.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good nephew neighbors

We've been in this house -- I dunno, two years? My niece and nephew live on one side, and another nephew (as of two(?) months ago) lives on the other side.

For some reason -- partly because of the shed, which means that various kid-ridin' vehicles were unearthed -- good things converged this last weekend, and our kids, plus their next-door male cousins, came over and everyone was riding various kid vehicles on our front yard. I also got my wife, her sister, and her brother to actually take a spin on my Green Machine. Good stuff. :)

The photo is of the aftermath, before I put all the vehicles away (in our new shed!!!).

I like this whole ''family'' thing. Now if only I could get **my** siblings and parents (and their households) to move on over here...


P.S. And also Old Roommate and his missus, and Slag and Four-Tower. Plus assorted cousins. And...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guitar and band memories

A photo of my first band -- with my roommate (to the right; drummer), and my cousin (seated; guitar and vocs).

In the photo, I'm holding the guitar (an Ibanez Roadstar II, in midnight blue) that I played during that period. Named ''Gypsy'', it's my first guitar.

Below is my first bass (I mostly played bass in the band, with some vocs), an Austin guitar. I always liked the ''ashtray'' pickup guards -- don't see too many electric basses with those. The bass was named ''Bigfish'' -- a pathetic pun, but I got used to it (bass [musical instrument] --> bass [the fish] --> a big fish).

Sadly, I lost both those instruments -- plus a few others -- in a burglary a year after I moved to Australia -- which still bums me out.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Job prospects

Good stuff! Got a phone call today, saying that I've been shortlisted for a jr. professor position that I applied for.

Interviews are next week. Fingers crossed!


Tabla rasa

I finally managed to spread some concrete sealer on the floor of our three-car-garage-sized shed (not so much to prevent stains, but rather to prevent moisture transmission up through the concrete). So, I've started to shift things over from our jam-packed living room, dining room, and library.

The problem with using an attached two-car garage as your library (we have a **lot**of books) is that -- if your house has neither basement nor [useable] attic --you're left with nowhere to put your miscellaneous ''stuff'': off-season Christmas ornaments, suitcases, your old childrens' toys that the kids aren't yet old enough for, and the like.

So, here's our blank slate:


And here's what will be shifting out to there (for all the photos, click to enlarge)...


There's a narrow path from the door to the bookshelves. But we'd like to move our desks into there. So, we need to shift some boxes...


There's actually a baby grand piano back there.


Under those table lamps (and etcetera) is a fairly nice dining room table.

I've already started shifting things to the shed: a baby stroller that we no longer use, and some pedestal fans (if it gets hot enough this summer, I'll fetch 'em back). I'll move a few things each evening, until we have a useable ''that end of the house''.

Exciting times!!!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Album recommendation

One of the CDs I received for my birthday is APOCALYPSO, by The Presets. Reminds me of middle-years Devo (e.g. their Shout album) -- for what that's worth.


Guitar indoctrination

Todya, I visited my daughter's daycare/ preschool class to indoctrinate them in the ways of electric guitars.

I got the idea from a boy there who -- when I pick up my daughter -- kept asking me when I was going to bring my guitar in. Plus, I didn't have any real exposure to musical instruments until I was in college, so I though maybe this early exposure might plant the seed in some potential guitarists.

The photo to the left (click to enlarge) shows my pile o' gear, as I packed it around. I brought two amps to allow for two lines of kids to try out the electric guitars (discussed below), as well as to demonstrate that guitar amps come in different sizes and colors. I brought an acoustic guitar, plus two short-scale guitars, and a regular guitar (a Hannah Montana fake Telecaster).

To the left is same gear, unpacked. (I love them electric guitars -- but there's a **lot** more setup and trouble-shooting than with an acoustic...)

You can see the pile o' patchcords, the two guitar stands, and the pedals (two distortion; a delay; a flanger; and a wah-wah) and tuner. Note also the power strip and extension cord

As indicated in my ''setlist'' below, I briefly showed 'em my acoustic guitar (basically, a hollow wooden box; and that you can thump on the side -- AS LONG AS IT'S JUST YOUR HAND -- DO **NOT** HIT IT WITH HARD THINGS!!!). Then I brought out my electric guitar (Hannah Montana, fake telecaster -- three girls in the front row were apparently big fans of Hannah Montana, so I scored bonus points there...), and told them that electric guitars are fun because you can change the sound with these little boxes.

I pointed out the ''special microphones, that listen to the guitar strings'' (i.e. the pickups), and how the sound goes through the purple wire (the patchcord), through the pink box, through the black wire (another patchcord), through the yellow box, [...etc...], and out to the amplifier. The amplifier is like a radio -- it makes the guitar sound loud, so you can hear it.

I demoed the different effects pedals (I A/B'd them -- for compare and contrast), and asked them to tell me what the sounds were like (e.g. distortion pedal -- happy? sad? angry?). This didn't work as well as I'd hoped -- maybe they have to be more than 5yo, developmentally, for this aspect to work.

(Addendum, Nov. 16, 2009 - the preschool teacher e-mailed me two photos; see new blog entry.)

I intentionally had the two amplifiers set up as a (nearly) stereo pair, and had them close their eyes (and experience a touch of motion sickness?) when I ran the flanger through 'em.

They seemed to like the wah-wah pedal (they bought into the reasoning that it was named thus because it goes ''wah, wah'' when you step on it).

Finally, I took a few minutes to set up three hands-on ''stations'': the acoustic guitar at the back (supervised by one of the teachers); the red short-scale guitar, red amp, and a distortion pedal in the front left corner of the room (supervised by the other teacher, who also used the classroom digital camera for a photo op with each of the kids); and I supervised the short-scale brown guitar, big black amp, and another distortion pedal in the front right of the classroom.

Note that I had intentionally brought guitars that I was willing to accept minor kid-induced damage (although none occurred, that I noticed). I didn't let them use

I was intrigued by the difference in interest level and aptitude of the kids: some kids went through all three stations, while others just went through once (ironically, including the boy who had pestered me to bring my guitars). And while some held the same left hand position and repeated the same basic strum over and over, others experimented with plucking the individual strings, moving the fret hand up and down the neck (in a rough kind of barre chord), and/or varying their strum pattern.

This was my ''setlist'':
  • Acoustic
  • Electric
  • (OK for boys to have Hannah MT gtr)
  • What is f/x pedal
  • Signal path
  • Dist.
  • Delay
  • Flanger
  • Wah
  • Rock star face
  • Three lines, kids can try them out

In hindsight, I should've brought my decibel meter, as I probably violated some OSHA convention with the amplifier volume levels.

Fun stuff; I'll likely do this once a year, as my daughter progresses through gradeschool.


Friday, November 06, 2009

A good birthday gift

The Lady got me a Green Machine for my birthday! (I've wanted one since I was ten...)

I also let The Girl have a try -- although she's a little short for this model (her feet only **barely** reach the pedals, which doesn't give her much leverage). This is the ''up to 180 lbs.'' model; she'd do better with the one for younger kids.



Sunday, November 01, 2009

Piano stairs increses public exercise

A brilliant innnovation: piano stairs.