Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Good backyard

It's a work in progress. But it's still a good backyard.

(From our back porch. Swingset in foreground. Center is a pile of lumber; blue tarp on right protects ''treasures''.)


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Using grandpa things

Well, today I sharpened a handsaw, using my (paternal) grandpa's saw vice and one of his triangular files (including the wooden knob-shaped handle he made). My setup is at left: an old chair, and a 2" x 4" permanently nailed to my Stump of Many Purposes.

I work three days a week, and watch the boys two days a week. When the back porch is sufficiently shady, I get some woodworking things done while keeping an eye on the boys through the patio door.

Below is another view. As you can see, the saw vice clamps the saw so that the teeth are easily accessible. I've clamped it to the piece of wood that also serves as a benchhook, for sawing small and mid-sized pieces. The notch in the end is for holding cylindrical pieces of metal, when I'm filing the ends or sides.

On a related note, I was splitting a small log a few days ago (to minimize the cracking on the ends while it dries; I don't yet have the capacity to mill it into lumber), and I realized that five of my six splitting wedges came from my grandpa. Pretty neat.

Here's the green tote I used to bring my Hammer of Thor and the splitting wedges outside:

Here's the split, in progress:

And, here's a closer look:

As you can probably see, I've tended to put my (paternal) grandpa's initials on the tools that I got from his workshop -- just so I (and my kids) know which ones were his.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Another spider

Another set of spider photos. This time, it's actually venomous! Found it inside one of the plastic buckets in the kids' sandbox. Put it inside a used Chinese food takeaway container.

Top view:

Bottom view:

According to Wikipedia
, the bites aren't fatal any more, and among adults are often just painful, but without major medical complications. Bad for little kids to be bit, though.

I went through **each** plastic sandbox toy before I let the kids play in the sandbox.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Router adventures

Today, while the kids were having their daily "the summer sun is behind the treeline, so it's safe to play outside" time, I got to use my electric router for the first time.

One of these:

... rather than one of these:

(Curiously, the woodworking type of router didn't show up in a Google images search until the second image of the fifth page of results!)

I'm in the long, protracted process of making a pair of stilts for The Girl. I used the router to round over the corners of the 2" x 2" boards that make the -- umm... long parts -- of the stilts.

I still need to go over the whole thing with some sandpaper, plus apply some finish. I'll post some pics when I'm done.


A rather large assumption

Last night my family and I sat down to try to watch the movie The Tale of Despereaux on DVD, which we'd rented from the library. It was the weirdest thing: the characters' mouths were moving, but even with the t.v.'s volume cranked all the way up, all we could hear was a dull mumble. But we could hear the narrator just fine (as long as the volume was cranked).

Turned out that the DVD's audio was **only** available in 5.1 surround: no stereo option. And we were trying to watch it on just a regular t.v. -- so we were losing the bass subwoofter (the ''point-one''), plus the surround sound: the only time we could hear anything was when the sound was supposed to be coming from front-and-center.

We turned on the subtitles and watched most of it -- which was fine for my wife and I, but our children (all 5yo and younger) were bored.

That's a pretty big assumption of Universal Pictures -- that everyone has them surround sound speakers set up. But maybe there are **non**-surround sound versions of the DVD available, and that's just what the library neglected to pick up.

Whatever the cause, **someone** was making a pretty big assumption.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Busy but around

Hm! Just noticed that I haven't posted anything for five days. I'm around -- I've just been busy.

Haven't done much music, but I **have** done funny little bits of woodworking. There's a window of opportunity between 5:15 and 7pm when the sun goes behind the trees (it's summer here) and the kids can play outside without it being too sunburn-y. While I'm supervising them, I'm also doing little puttery things in the back yard, including some minor woodworking things which I'll elaborate on in a later post.

Over the past week I've used a smoothing plane, scrub plane, and router plane [my first time!]-- plus a mallet and chisels, and a cordless drill. Interesting to those who use hand tools, and a big ''huh?'' to everyone else, I'm sure... :)


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Darnest thing

Heh! Just got e-mailed by a guy in my class in sixth grade. Apparently, five or six of us from this ''gifted'' program are posseing up on Facebook. He invited me to join them.

Nice to be invited -- but between this blog, and my following ten or so other people's blogs, that's enough online involvement for me right now. :)


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Something for the kids and the car

When the kids are a little older, I'd like this to be what we say every time we go somewhere in the car.

I get to be Batman.

Batman: "To the Batmobile! (pause) Let's go!"

Robin: "Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed."

Batman: "Ready to move out."


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weirdly small PCs

These super-teeny PCs have major geekpoints associated with them.

The first one (pictured at left) is about US$200, dual-boots two types of Linux (Ubuntu and Gentoo), and is just plain nifty. Available at Amazon, among (presumably!) other places.

The other one (below) is another version of the same thing (actually, there are two permutations). Looks to be about the same size, just a bit larger. Depending on what configuration you order (e.g. Windows is more expensive than the Linux version; with HD, or add your own), it's around US$250-$500, plus shipping and possibly sales tax.

That's pretty groovy...


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Top fifty movie special effects shots

A pretty good webpage, including video clips, of the (in their opinion) top 50 movie special effects shots.

Takes a while to look at, of course....


Friday, January 15, 2010

Nifty device

A link (thx, Dad!) to video footage of a nifty, complex device.

Good stuff -- although the footage is a touch over three minutes..


Thursday, January 14, 2010

This also amused me

OK -- one more (the reason for arrest):




Those darned illegal drugs

Yeah, blogging from work again...

Analyzing the police administrative database. Looking through the ''reason'' entries, for why a person was arrested. The cops tend to use a lot of shorthand and abbrevs.

In addition to "ARRESTED FOR POSSESS DANG DRUG" (Sheesh! Those dang drugs)...

...there's also "POSSESS DANG DRUG AND UTENSIL" (he has them danged drugs -- **and** a spoon! Dagnabit!)


Technology enhances my listening pleasure

At work I usually listen to music with my wireless headphones. They're the ''earmuff'' style, rather than them teeny little earbud things: not only do they block out noise well, even when they're not turned on -- they also look like I'm listening to music -- much more effectively than earbuds (which are harder to see).

I just discovered that I continue to receive a signal, even down to the Men's Room. Handy!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bonus to shirt untucked

(If I Twittered, this would be a Tweet.)

Posting this blog from work...

I tend to wear my shirt untucked.

One advantage to wearing one's shirt untucked is that if you notice, at 2:18pm, that your fly has been open all day -- you're the only one who has noticed.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A pleasant day

Had a pleasant day today. Sunday. Some Sundays we go to church, and some we don't.

As usual, the kids woke us up around 6:30am-7am. On the nights I stay up late doing research work, I go to bed any time from midnight to 2am. Last night it was around 1:30am. Since I'd stayed up late, I tried sleeping in, and almost made it to 8am.

Fed the boys breakfast, and hung around with the family. About 10:30am, The Lady took The Girl to the library for the 11am storytime 'n' crafts thing, while I put the boys down for a nap.

Fell asleep during their naptime, so woke up maybe 1:30pm. Fed the boys lunch, then co-watched the kids for a bit.

Around 3pm, went over to my wife's uncle's place to videotape him explaining his shop layout to me (he restores old cars, so he has a bunch of metalworking gear; a few days ago, I suddenly felt the need to videotape him explaining his shop and its workflow). Only meant to stay for an hour, but ended up staying until around 5:30.

Spent a little over a half hour in the shed (set the timer for 30 minutes, and it rang), while The Lady wrangled the kids and made dinner. I applied boiled linseed oil to the other half of a cubbyhole/cabinet on wheels -- about 3 ft x 3ft -- that my wife's sister was getting rid of. It'll be part of my woodshop: I'll put tools or spare parts or some-such in it.

Also sawed off more of the ragged end of a hollow log, which will eventually be a drum (a rustic-looking conga drum).

Had dinner (fish and chips, plus salad), and co-watched the kids.

Around 7:30pm, gave the boys their bath. PJ'd them up, and put them to bed.

Around 8pm, read The Girl some bedtime stories. Then I sorted through half of a box of misc. paper from Seattle: old reading packets from courses I taught in Seattle (circa 2002), which I kept; and printouts of preliminary results from a research project for the City of Seattle, which I recycled.

Various e-mail checking for the last hour or so.

Will do some research assistant work (doing clever things with statistical software to try to salvage information from some **very** messy administrative data) for the next hour or so (i.e. 10:30pm onwards).

To bed around midnight.

A pretty typical day. :) A pleasant life.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Workshop update

I'm trying to maintain balance in my life between doing stuff around the house (including moving boxes out to the shed, and setting up my workhop in the shed) and working from home for $$$. Today I allowed myself an hour to set up the workshop.

Among other things, I slid the lumber rack from about the halfway point in the shed to inside the one-third mark -- which is what I've allocated for my workshop. The back of the lumber rack -- which is 1.0 meter thick (3.3 feet) is where the eventual divider wall will be, which will keep the sawdust in the woodshop zone, and out of the music/gym zone.

Since the shed is about 9m long (about 29 feet) by 6m (about 19.5 feet) wide, and the workshop is one-third the length -- that's 3m by 6m (about 10 feet by 20 feet).

**But** -- the lumber rack is 1.0m deep. And Great-Grandpa's workbench -- which my wife's uncle will give me when I have room -- is 9.4 ft. long x 23.6'' deep x 35'' high (metric: 2.85m long x 0.6m deep x 0.9m high).

So, that's 1.4m clearance (4.5 feet) between the edge of the workbench (it'll go up against the wall) and the lumber rack. Not a **lot** of room -- but I put some lumber where the edge of the workbench will be, and it's not bad. Cosy -- but I don't mind that. One could even say it's ergonomic: everything will be at my fingertips!

I won't be building a lot of desks or wardrobes/armoires. And anything large that I **do** build, I can assemble in the "music room" next door (i.e. on the other side of the dividing wall) -- a minor nuisance, but work-able.

I may change my mind, and decide to push the lumber rack back, by a little bit. But it's good to try things on for size **before** installing the wall. :)

As far as room for tools: I primarily use hand tools, or handheld electric tools (router; power drill). Eventually I'd like to get a small drill press and a medium-sized lathe for the shop -- but those should fit within my alloted zone. Nothing with a large footprint: power planers, jointers, or table saws.

And, if I'm wrong, I'll just build a dedicated outbuilding or two.


Virtually wandering Seattle

I just spent ten or so minutes -- via Google maps -- ''walking'' from downtown Ballard, up the street I used to walk to get home from the bus, to our old apartment. Then I walked down the side street we used to walk to get to the local video rental place.

Ah -- good times. :)


Friday, January 08, 2010

Two old sawhorses

I salvaged these two sawhorses from somewhere on our property, four or five years ago. I don't recall which shed or shack it was from -- one of the two in the backyard of my wife's grandmother's house, or one of the sheds where our house now stands.

I rescued them a few days ago from the pile of ''treasures'' under the leaky tarp, which I mentioned a few days ago. Luckily, they seemed unaffected from their neglect (they're used to it -- having been in a shed for probably thirty years before I came across them). I've stashed them in the Mega-Shed -- once I get things tidied, they'll hang from the rafters until I get a chance to fix 'em.

I really like how all the hash marks imply a history of use -- nicks and dings by carpenters and homeowners of the past. (Old-ish -- they've probably been on the property for 35 years -- and who knows how old they were when grandad found them.) It's also pretty neat how they have a family connection: they were on my wife's family's property, so either her grandad made them (they seem to be the same height, and of the same construction), or else he picked them up at a jobsite (he used to lift up and move small houses on a flatbed truck, and if the owners had left behind useful-seeming stuff, he often salvaged it rather than letting it go to waste -- and it would end up in one of the sheds in the back yard).

I also like how someone tried to repair the second sawhorse (the photo above, and below), after it broke, by nailing a second layer of lumber on to the top. I'll try to preserve that, when I repair it.

The dowels in the hole (photo above; photo below) are a mystery to me: it's not a pegged joint, as there's no corresponding hole in the wood below. Probably means that the top piece was salvaged from some previous use, and the pegs were just left in, to plug the hole. Or, maybe it was some sort of cleat, to help hold the lumber in place while sawing?

I won't try to **restore** these -- i.e. make them shiny and new, or sand out the saw marks. I just want to make 'em so they're in working order: a light scrub with a brush; add the missing legs; and a coat or two of boiled linseed oil. That's about it. Oh: and remove the truly rotted and termite-eaten sections. That's it.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Clean start and dirty crumbles

Today was a mix of a day.

Went in to work (usually I just work from home), as everyone in my room is being shifted to a different building: I'm now back in the ''bullpen'' (cubicle farm) that I started out in, three years ago.

Maybe 20% of my guff I've moved across to the new place. The rest -- odd bits of office furniture I collected, class notes from courses I taught a year ago and may not be teaching again, books that aren't relevant to my current project -- I'll ferry home. About half of the stuff I took home today; the rest I'll take home later this week.

So: a fresh, new, streamlined start (as per the photo, above).

But then: I have two stashes of "treasures" in the back yard, under blue tarps. For a while, I carefully monitored the condition of these tarps, and if they blew off or developed holes (they're not designed for continual exposure to sunlight), I re-tied or replaced them.

But, I was busy with my dissertation (barely even kept up with mowing the lawn), and also with wrangling kids. A day or so ago, I finally took a look, and saw major holes.

Today, after I got home from work, I took two tarps and some light rope back there, to re-protect my piles. Upon closer inspection, though, I noticed that several items have been damaged by the rain. My blue ''blood-letting chair'' (hospital surplus: recliner, on wheels(!), with a tray that pops up under each armrest(!) had lost much of its structure: the metal frame was fine, but the chipboard(?) that formed the backrest had turned mushy. My unicycle (which I never figured out how to ride) was rusty, with the chrome majorly flaking off. A bookshelf made of MDF had become waterlogged and was falling apart. A small wooden wall cupboard, and a wooden sideboard without a top, that I had rescued from various shed in our back yard (prior to being bulldozed to make way for our house) had been destroyed by termites (even though I had them up on bricks: not high enough, I guess). And one leg of a small wooden table I'd bought at a garage sale was also eaten by termites.

Bummer. And, frustrating: I took the time to salvage or save all this stuff; stored it at our old house (some stuff under a clothesline with a tarp over it; other stuff in a small shed); moved it to our new house; and tried to keep it covered; all for naught. I was going to put a top on the wooden sideboard and use it in our (eventual) potting shed.

Well -- it **is** only ''stuff''. And the truly good stuff I'd kept indoors. But, still bummed about the unicycle -- although some effort with a wire brush will remove the rust. And the "blood-letting chair" I'd had since around 1998. I liked that chair: quirky, and practical.

Wish I had time to rescue the rest of that stuff under the tarps (I hung new tarps - so hopefully the stuff won't deteriorate further). But, need to do other stuff, like continue to sort thru boxes and move them from our house into the shed.


Monday, January 04, 2010

Childrens books

(I intentionally left the apostrophe out of ''Children's'', in this post's title.)

Maybe it's because I don't have a lot of time to read, or maybe it's because I like books that get to the point -- butI like children's books.

Here are a few that I recommend: I picked them up at our last two visits to the local library.

  • The Squirrel Wife; by Philippa Pearce; 1971, 2007; an original fairy tale; guy lives w/ mean older brother, helps the magic people of the woods, granted a wife who used to be a squirrel.
  • Tickety Tock; by Jason Robert Brown; 2008; a tailor is raised to be always busy, which means that he never gets around to making a special dress for a special young woman of his young man days; finally, as an old man, the clock gives him a reprieve, and a chance to make that dress.
  • A Young Man’s Dance; by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton; 2006; a young boy visits his grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, and remembers how she used to dance around the room with him and tell him how “a young man needs to know how to dance if he wants to get a girl”.
  • Me, All Alone, at the End of the World; by M. T. Anderson; 2005, 2007; a boy is quite content to live by himself and dig for fossils, etc., until his area gets turned into a resort.
  • Finding Home; by Gary Crew; 2009; a boy, who loves books and live out on a farm loves the tree with all the cockatoos, but his parents want to cut it down because they have to plow around it.
  • The Princess who Had No Kingdom, by Ursula Jones, 2009; AU publisher; princess w/out kingdom ends up w/ jester; charming story.
  • Miss Little’s gift, by Douglas Wood, 2009; 2nd grade teacher’s perseverance teaches boy with ADHD how to read.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Repurposed bunk bed

I have a few other beds I need to shift out to the shed. One of them is the bunk bed that my brother and I slept in as kids.

Brain flash! Decided I'd use it as shelving, to store the misc. **vertically**, to maximize space.

Did it. Works well. (Sorry -- no pics yet.)


Saturday, January 02, 2010

A puppet show

As I go through our piles o' stuff, I keep finding treasures. Pictured is a puppet theatre that my paternal grandpa made for his kids, around 1954.

Sadly, one of the curtains, and backdrop cloth, have been grawed by something -- either bug or rodent. Don't know if it happened in Australia, or in my grandpa's attic.

My dad says that "the decorations [gems] atop the proscenium [the top front thing -- he was a Drama major in college] are a section of some suspenders we had had when we were toddlers. Seems like the curtain pulls terminated by using tax tokens as weights."

The drawcords on the curtains were tied in an inefficient manner, such that they kept jamming -- so, I threaded them through a different route.

Also, they originally passed through the same eyehook, which caused a bit of drag and made it a little confusing as to which cord to pull. I added a cuphook (didn't have any small eyehooks handy) for one of the drawstrings.

Has an old-timey power cord running to some small (Christmas?) lights inside, for stage lighting. A little dangerous. Eventually, I'll rig up some colored LEDs and a 9V battery -- maybe some switches for each of the colors.

Finally, here's my daughter trying out the puppet theatre.

She loved it -- she did a zillion ''dress rehersals'' before doing the show for Mommy, and each one was fairly different.