Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Sunday, February 28, 2010


My laptop has three USB ports. One is dedicated to the laptop stand, which serves as a hub for the external keyboard and trackball. The other two are too close together to plug in more than one USB flashdrives at a time.

So, I have a USB hub plugged in, with **four** USB flashdrives plugged in at once, transferring files back and forth. That tickles me.

Giggle, giggle...hee hee...


Saturday, February 27, 2010

ST:NG Simpsons joke

I came up with this joke (riddle?) myself; a quick Google search of ''simpsons sea captain tasha yar'' returns no relevant hits.

Q: What is The Simpson's Sea Captain's favorite Star Trek: Next Generation character?

A: Tasha YARRRR!


Friday, February 26, 2010

The craft of songwriting

Wednesday afternoon of this week, while at home with the boys, I pulled out my ‘’good’’ acoustic guitar, which I hadn’t played in probably half a year. I also dug out my folder of chords and lyrics of songs that I cover (such as Johnny Cash’s ‘’Folsom Prison Blues’’), and my green(!) binder of songs I wrote a zillion years ago.

Some of the songs in that green binder are ‘’regulars’’: songs I used to play when I was in the band with my cousin and my roommate. Others are works in progress: missing verses, the chorus, or even the fundamental melody. One of them was a song called “I Wish That I Was Cool”: last touched, 6/18/98. It has a basic set of lyrics, but – even though I had some chords penciled in – the melody I was using wasn’t very good. It was trying too hard. Not very catchy.

Different people have different styles of songwriting. For me, all of my best songs just ‘’appear’’ – either I have a riff or series of chords on the guitar, and the lyrics just come out of my mouth – or I come up with some lyrics, and the melody is built right in. Unlike some songwriters, I can’t just ‘’force’’ good music, or lyrics. I can come up with functional stuff – but it’s not really good.

And now today is Friday. This morning, as I was driving my daughter to school – somewhat sleep-deprived, due to staying up very late to do some stuff for work (due today! e-mailed it to my colleagues around 2am) – I was reciting the chorus to myself., over and over. And – as often happens in the car or in the shower, when my mind is unfettered – the melody suddenly came! I kept on into the verse: yay! a corresponding melody!

So, I was a little giddy when we stashed the car and walked the girl to the school grounds.

‘’Did you know that sometimes Daddy makes up songs?’’, I asked my daughter as we walked along. She did.

‘’And sometimes I make up music and words for myself,’’ she said. Which is true (and which makes me proud!). Some of them are sing-songy, meandering things, while others have an actual verse/chorus/verse structure to them.

‘’Well,’’ I said, ‘’Daddy finished another song, in his head, while we were in the car’’, I said. I wrote dowthe words a long time ago, but I couldn’t think of the music. And just now, I did.’’

A pause.

‘’You know,” I said, some people make up songs for their job.’’ I sang the theme song to ‘’Malcolm in the Middle.’’ ‘’People ask them to write songs, and then they give them money.’’


‘’’Some people are good at making up the words,’’ I said. ‘’And some people are good at making up the music. And some people are good at both.’’

I’m not sure whether this was interesting to her, or not.

But I felt that it needed saying.

ADDENDUM: On my way to work, I had to pull over every few minutes to jot down additional lyrics, or instrumentation ideas.

By the time I got to work I was all giggly with accomplishment.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hot in the day, but cool at night

It's 11:23pm, and unfortunately I'm staying up late at night to do some additional runs on this govt. report we're doing (trying to get the ''good'' draft done by Friday morning, and spend the rest of the day doing formatting).

During the summer around these parts, it's usually hot during the day, and warm at night: it doesn't **really** cool down.

Right now I can feel cool air drifting in through the window -- which means that the hotty-hot part of summer is over. A good thing. :)



I was discussing an online comic with a friend. Part of the joke is that the series of letters is "A B C D... Z."

I found it interesting that when I was saying the letters to myself as I typed, I said "zed" for ''zee''. (Aussies say ''zed'' -- which screws up the rhyme scheme at the end of the ''A, B, C Song'').

I guess that shows that I've been here a while.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Embarassed Canadians

So, the Winter Olympics are trotting along. Today at work, my Canadian co-worker came over to my desk in mock horror.

''The Canadians lost to the Americans,'' she said, ''In ice hockey.''

That must be embarassing. :)


Friday, February 19, 2010

Comedian Mitch Hedberg

The name was mentioned in a blog entry I read yesterday. Wikipediaed it, and it turns out to be a comedian. Pretty good: check out his YouTube clips.

Some examples of his style (from the Wikipedia article):

"They say Sprite is made out of lemon and lime. I tried to make it at home, there's more to it than that."

"I like an escalator because an escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. There would never be an 'Escalator Out of Order' sign. Only an 'Escalator temporarily stairs. Sorry for the convenience.'"

"I was in a casino, minding my own business, and this guy came up to me and said, 'You're gonna have to move. You're blocking a fire exit.' As though if there was a fire, I wasn't gonna run. If you're flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit. Unless you're a table."


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The awkwardness of part-time work

If you work part-time, and it's the type where you show up, do your thing, and leave: fine. Like working as a movie theatre, or a sales clerk.

And if you work full-time, at some sort of ''professional-class'' job -- some sort of business person or computer programmer or such -- and a project is running behind: o.k., you catch up on it for a few weekends. Part of the gig, I suppose.

The awkward -- o.k., let's call it ''sucky'' -- bit is when you work part-time on an ongoing project. We have the next draft of this government report due to our boss by the end of the business day tomorrow (Friday). I need to get my share of my chapter into the other guy's e-mail inbox such that he can work on his part first thing Friday.

Which means -- since I was watching the kids all day today -- that I have to work on it at night. General kid-wrangling lasted until about 9:30pm tonight. So, I have to work on it until -- what? Midnight? 2am? We'll see.

Yesterday (slash ''this morning'') I was up 'til 2am, working on it. This is getting a little old.

Bright side: At least I **am** getting paid by the hour. But at the moment, I'd rather just toss it in and go to bed.

Of course, I've spent the last 40 minutes checking e-mail. And I didn't **have** to write this blog entry... ;)


Finally guitar

To illustrate what my life has been like: Today, while watching the kids, I decided -- Hey -- to go get the green electric guitar that my wife gave me for Christmas, the Heavy Metal distortion pedal she also gave me for Christmas, and my red Gorilla amp (small, but with good tone), and set up in the kitchen. I think this is the first time that I've actually plugged in since mid-December.

I **could** -- and **should** play electric guitar more. But for some reason, I don't. Part of it is a current lack of good space to set up. Part of it is that when the kids are around, they want to try it out, too -- which means that I don't get to. And part of it is just time, inclination, and a zillion other things.

But at the heart of it: it tickles me to no end to plug in and play. I should do it more often.

My compromise position over the last month has been to keep my bunged-up old acoustic guitar handy, and noodle around on that, now and again, while watching the kids. That works o.k. But it's not quite the same.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I like tea

I go through these "tea" phases, where I drink a lot of green tea. It lasts for a few weeks (often during the fall or winter), and then fairly abruptly stops.

And, just as abruptly, it resumes.

("Resumes" is a good word. I was gonna say ''begins again'' -- but ''resumes'' is better.)

Monday of this week, a co-worker was making a cup of tea, and offered me a teabag for myself. I declined, but thought to myself (in a Homer Simpson voice, "Mmmmm. Tea..."). That night, at home, made myself a cup of tea. Been doing it ever since.

Because I drink my tea pretty weak, one teabag lasts me for several cups -- all evening, and often into the next day (I put it in the 'fridge overnight). Which is why it takes me so long to go through a box of tea. I have -- among other stashes of tea -- two boxes of (originally) 40 bags of tea each of fancy Chinese green tea (two differenet types). Tuesday I gave the tea-offering co-worker two ziplock bags of 15 tea bags each -- and I still have about 30 bags left for myself.

Again, not counting my other stashes.

But -- when I think to have some -- I do like tea.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Well timed

This was pretty cool:

Today I worked from home, and picked up the boys from daycare. Around 5pm, I picked up the phone and dialed my wife's work number, to see when she was coming home. I was surprised that as soon as I put the phone to my ear (after dialing), that there was no ring tone: she was already there.

Turned out that she was calling **me**, from her cell phone, at the exact same instant: I picked it up before the first ring.



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Crushing deadline

Gots me a crushing deadline this coming Friday. Had a related deadline this last Friday, as well, but the boss seemed disappointed with the degree of polish (or lack thereof) of my draft chapter for the report.

A big part of it -- as my wife pointed out -- is that some people do the formatting first, and **then** fill in the specifics, populate the tables, etc. I do it the other way around -- because why make a table all pretty if your colleagues tell you to completely change it? Why pre-format text if it's going to be massively edited?

Ah well: revised version due this Friday. Chance to redeem myself.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Believing real books

I thought this was interesting: Apparently, if you there is a "real" (i.e. paper) copy of a book, then people are more likely to treat the electronic versions as legitimate.


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Parental guilt

2yo is a dangerous age: they're **fast** -- but gots no sense.

We were at swimming today, and while my back was turned (I was talking to the front desk person, with my daughter going "Daddy! Daddy!" -- so I was doubly distracted), my youngest climbed up the side of a steel stool with a plastic seat.

The whole thing -- slowly -- toppled over onto him, with the edge of the seat whacking him across the lower forehead. He now has a hairline cut, and a fairly large welt which is turning into an impressive bruise. Every time I look at it, I feel guilty...

He seems o.k., though. But I feel **bad**...


Friday, February 05, 2010

A good place

I work on a certain university campus in town, where I do hourly work as a Research Assistant. Maybe it's because this is the longest I've stayed at one place for quite a while, but there are a great many swell people here.

There's three universities in town that have Criminology departments: I sure hope that -- eventually -- this is the one where I find permanent work.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Curtain of tricycles

So, the shed has been built, and I'm trying to load it up -- but in an efficient manner.

The kids have a fair number of tricycles and other vehicles, which are only used occasionally (we don't have any sidewalks; I need to lay some sort of brick or concrete riding trail for the kids), but which were taking up a fairly large corner of the shed.

Solution: the Curtain of Tricycles. (Photo at left.)

Basically, I have a series of hooks tied in to lengths of rope at strategic heights. Except for the unicycle (which is on my To Learn list), everything is low enough for my wife to reach to unhook, in case I'm not home. Some items are hung by a loop of rope, rather than directly by a hook (i.e. the hook connects to the loop of rope, which passes through the item).

This works out pretty well, as two or three items can be stored vertically, in the space of one.

Because the roof beams are made of folded-over metal (in a trough formation), I was concerned that concentrating weight at a single point might, at some point, cause the bearm to buckle. I also didn't want to beam to cut through the rope.

My solution was to nail a short stack of scrap 2" x 4"s whereever I intended to hang an item. This distributes the load, as well as raises the loop of the rope above the edges of the beam.

Saved a heck of a lot of space!