Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reigstered as Citizens today

Today the kids and I kept an appointment with the U.S. Consulate downtown. Signed 'em up to be U.S. citizens (and also to get a Social Security number).

We had celebratory Slushies on the way home (there was a 7-11 just a block away), and we also stopped by a discount/liquidators store, where I bought the kids a ball each (about the size of a small volleyball), and a maracca, to mark the occasion. Because, uh... American citizenship, to me, means inflatable balls and shaken percussion instruments.

The Girl enjoyed taking the bus (the appointment was downtown -- very little parking, and all of it pricey).


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just when you think the well has run dry

Just when I think that maybe I'm out of songs...

On the way to work Tuesday morning, I came up with a song concept, then a decent start to the lyrics (had to turn off the radio, so as to not block the flow). Also, most of the arrangement (i.e. the instrumentation).

When I got to work, I pulled out my laptop and spent about ten minutes in the parking lot jotting down lyrics and misc. ideas for the song.

Stylistically, it's like most of my songs: not instrumentally complex, but fun, and catchy.

Basically, it's about "When I was your age, I wanted to be -- a rock star." Conceptually similar in many ways to my Guitar Cousin's "Three Man Band" song -- including (probably) being bookended by the above phrase. It's semi-fictionalized, autobiograhical. (Fictionalized in that I can't be bothered to figure out the exact ages at which I did things.)

Realistically, I'll record it in 18-24 months... ;)


(Image from

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not as awful as I could have been

Today, instead of taking my usual remedial nap (I work 'til midnight or 1 a.m., then try to make it up with a nap during the day while the boys are asleep), I spent about twenty minutes trying to play the piano. And I managed to **not** wake up the boys.

Back in 2003, when we lived in Seattle, I was slowly teaching myself to play the piano: I chose two or three songs that I liked enough to not get sick of; then I would slowly, painfully work through them. ("Hmm. Second line from the top. 'Every Good Boy Does Fine.' Must be a 'D'... okay, two up from middle-C...")

I got to the point where I was... adequate... with those songs -- and then we crated up the piano, moved continents, and didn't un-crate the piano until about two years ago.

It's only been the last few months that I've shifted boxes around enough to reach the piano (because The Girl was starting piano lessons). And, although I've goofed around on it now and again, it was only today that I suddenly had the hankering to return to learning how to read sheet music.

It was pretty painful: I did the left hand for half of one song, and the right hand (separately) for one time through of both songs. And that took me --as I said -- about twenty minutes. Ouch.

But: not as sucky as a bare-bones beginner. I was pleased that I started anticipating the next notes -- that is, reaching for the correct keys, without looking, based on the notes on the page. Which **is** the point... :)

We'll see how long this inclination lasts.

For the record: the two songs are ''Fire and Rain'' (James Taylor) and ''Have You Ever Seen the Rain'' (Creedence Clearwater Revival). I had wanted to do ''After the Gold Rush'' (Neil Young) -- but danged if I can find the songbook that has it.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Duck duck goose

I just realized that it’s been fifteen -- maybe twenty -- years since I last played ''Duck, Duck, Goose''.

That’s too bad: it’s a fun game.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Captain Crash, where are you?

Paging ''Captain Crash'', AKA Kevin Adams or Kevin G. Adams. Wondering where the drummer guy has gone.

Posting this, as I'm hoping that (eventually) he'll Google his own name, and this entry will come up.

I've tried Googling his name, myself, but no valid hits.

Hoping all is well, and just wanting to get back in touch with you -- in part, in case some of our old ''Quiet Storm'' songs get re-released and we make a bazillion dollars in royalties.

Plus: I'd like to cover ''Rose in the Sand'' -- although my ''Songs to Cover'' list is pretty danged long. Would just like to have your permission. ;)

Anyhow, if you see this, leave some sort of contact detail in the Comments section. If you want me to then delete your comment, please specify.


--Gye Greene (bassist for the defunct band Quiet Storm, from Seattle)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another one about the Pumpkins

Some more on our old next-door neighbors, the Pumpkins.

In hindsight, the Pumpkins aspired to be upper-middle class, but were really just middle class. Their kids went to a private school; they sent their kids to tennis lessons; and they had a beach house. They also went to a “rich person’s church”.

Their older son Brian used to sometimes hit his younger (by about three years) brother, Allen. Given that I liked my brother and sisters, I couldn’t fathom this. In fact, most of the time when we three played outside (I was Brian, the eldest’s, age), it ended up with Brian hitting his Brother and Allen running inside, crying, to tell their mom.

So one day - - again, I was about eight, maybe ten - - I asked Mrs. Pumkin, “Why doesn’t Brian like Allen?” She replied, with flustered indignation, that of course Brian loved Allen, etc. etc. My eight year old self didn’t buy it.

I also remember having the impression that their boys didn’t take very good care of their toys. They had a dog (which I in hindsight recognize as a corgi, owning one ourselves), who tended to poop in their front yard.

One time I stepped in their dog’s poop while playing in the front yard, and when I followed the boys in I tracked it inside. Mrs. Pumpkin asked (I think; it’s been a while) who was tracking that dirt inside. I remember replying, ''Oh, I just have some poopy on my shoe'' – thinking that she wouldn’t really care. Instead, she yelled, ''Out! Out!'' – pointing to the door.

I remember being surprised that she would be that passionate about my tracking poop inside.

No, I don’t know why, specifically, I thought they wouldn’t care about tracking poop inside. But maybe I figured that if they cared, they wouldn’t let their dog poop where their kids played.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The workings of a 5yo mind

Two from The Girl (5 y.o.)

1) A week or so ago, the local mall had a kid’s dancing thing during the day, during which they gave out (inexpensive) Michael Jackson style hats to the participating kids. The Girl keeps referring to him as “Uncle Jackson”, despite repeated corrections.

Today she said, “Uncle Jackson took too many medicines, and that’s why he died.”

2) Today in the car, she asked whether ham was a fruit, so we explained the differences between fruits (from trees and bushes) and meat (from animals). Then she said, “You get milk from cows. They have pipes underneath, and you pull them.”

Yeah. Pretty much.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Every other day

While waking up from a nap, I -- for no apparent reason -- remembered something that happened when I was around eight or ten.

Our next-door neighbors, the Pumpkins [not their name, but it’s amusing if you’re from my family] went on vacation for a week or two. The mom, Mrs. Pumpkin, hired me to once a day feed and water their pet rabbit, which lived in a hutch in the back yard.

I did this diligently, every day – although some days, I admit, I forgot until after dark: then I had to use a flashlight. But still, I did it.

When they got home, Mrs. Pumpkin stopped by to pay me. She asked whether I had fed the rabbit every day, or “more like every-other day”. For some reason, she put some emphasis on the “more like every-other day”. I was an agreeable little kid (and didn’t know what “every-other day” meant -- I thought it was just an odd way of saying “each day”, because every day is an “other day”, depending on the day), so I echoed back “every-other day”. Then she said something slightly snippy about “Well, since you only did it every-other day...”, paid me half of what she owed me, and left.

I remember being confused, annoyed, and insulted, because I wasn’t getting paid what I was worth, and I had kept my end of the bargain. But I didn’t challenge it, since I was a little kid (and she was a grown-up), and since I sensed that by choosing the alternate phrasing of “every day” that I somehow had given an impression of not doing it every day.

A year or two later, I learned what “every-other day” meant, and I went, “Ahhhh…”

It’s funny what you remember.

And I never use the phrase “every-other day”.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Found it!

Last night I ''treated'' myself to three and a half hours of moving boxes around in our living room, dining room, and library: I'm trying to clear out enough space to move our desks and computers out of our home office, such that it can become a guest room/ sewing room.

During the moving, I opened my box of LPs -- unopened since 2003 (i.e. Seattle). In there, I found a flat box (about the thickness of a pizza box) that I had used as a spacer to keep the LPs from falling over. And inside that box: the tuning fork I've been looking for, for the last two years! (Ahhh....)

And this evening, while looking for something else, I discovered my bag o' fishing line: two(?) years ago, at the fishing supplies section at some department store, I bought around ten rolls of various gauges of fishing line (on special!) -- with the idea of cutting them to length and using them as economical replacement guitar and ukelele strings. Score!

Also discovered the box with most of our sheet music.

Oh: and last night I discovered two more boxes of my old children's books. That's neat-o, as well. :)



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Laughter is the core of living

At this time yesterday, I was alone in the house and taking a moment from work to eat a bagel and read part of the newspaper. Something amused me, and I laughed, loudly and heartily.

It made me realize that -- I think -- I laugh more (and with more heartiness) than most people around me.

I'd like to think that's a good thing. And I'd like to think that, when my kids are old, that it's one of the things they remember about me.

That, and my amazing collection of glow-in-the-dark things. :)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Semi-annual haircut

I'm cheap, or just have better things to do with my time, so I tend to let my hair grow out, then shave it back to almost nothing: I do this two or three times a year.

After trying for about two weeks to find time to cut my hair --The Lady also needs to be available, to tidy the loose ends -- I finally managed to on Sunday night. As usual, The Girl wanted to help by using the clippers. And as usual, I documented the various stages.

At left is the ''before'' photo: poofy hair, poofy beard.

First, I took the clippers to my moustache (The Girl asked me to do this myself, as she was afraid of nipping my nose with the clippers).

So, here's my Quaker look:

And, here's my Amish look:

(I'm sure that there's more difference than Quakers=jolly and Amish=serious. Also, I should've worn my straw yardwork hat for the Amish pic. Ah well.)

Then The Girl shaved off my beard.

It was about this time I went out to the family room to show my wife and sons our progress. B1, upon hearing my voice, figured ''Eh -- it's Daddy,'' and went back to his desert.

B2, however, looked very concerned: his lip started trembling, and when I leaned forwards (a bit suddenly, I admit) to talk to him, he jerked backwards in his high chair.

Then he started crying, and The Lady had to pick him up and hold him:

Not sure if he didn't recognize me -- or just preferred me with a fuzzy beard.

But -- too late to turn back now! So, The Girl she shaved off the rest of my hair:

I went back to the bathroom (where the hair-cutting occurred), and took a few more photos. B2 wandered in, and was happy: either he was distracted by the opportunity to have his picture taken, or else Daddy taking photos with the digital camera was quintessentially ''Daddy'', thus proving my identity. Dunno.

Either way, he's all smiles, now:

(The Girl is trying to get him to look upwards, at the camera.)

And thus, the start of another hair-growing cycle. Will probably do this again in October or so.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Daughter buying tools

Friday afternoon, I picked up The Girl (5yo) from school and told her I wanted to stop by the lcal ''big box'' hardware store to buy some more woodworking glue (the local Target-ish store [Big W] has ''interior grade'' WW glue, but not ''exterior grade'', which I prefer for its water-resistance).

The Girl announced that she wanted to get some more tools for her tool box [the blue bucket, pictured at left] -- and that she wanted to spend her allowance money on it. Sure -- fine by me!

We stopped by the house to get her coin purse, raid her piggy bank, and inventory what she already had in her toolbox.

The route to the hardware store passes by two pawn shops. She looked thru the bin o' tools at the first pawn shop, she had some trouble deciding, but said, "If I don't see anything I like, I don't have to buy anything." True enough. Intially, she wanted to buy a pair of pliers with red handles (pink's her favorite color), but I offered 50c and the lady said, nope, $2. The Girl didn't want to spend that much (I pointed out that it was four weeks' allowance).

I thought she'd revert to one of the red-handled screwdrivers she was looking at, but instead she chose a combination wrench (box-end + crescent): 50c. We went out to the car to get her money (I thought it was more meaningful if we used her money, rather that I fronting the money and she paying me back), and she went inside all by herself (with initial reluctance -- but I told her I'd watch from the doorway).

At the second pawn shop, she picked up a smaller (but ''real'') hand saw. It's doesn't have ''hardened'' (i.e. blue-tipped) teeth, so it's actually re-sharpenable. Two bucks -- although I talked the guy down to $1.95, as she was paying cash, and her own allowance money. (He didn't have to do it -- he was just being nice.)

The wrench, and the saw, are in the photo below. Bonus: the saw has a built-in ruler! (Dunno how often you'd use it -- but, hey!)

There wasn't much in her price range at the hardware store -- the difference between buying ''new'' and ''used'' -- although we did find a small tape measure (red!) for $2.60.

However, I pointed out that she already **has** a tape measure, and that you can only spend money once (my dad used to point this out to us): perhaps she'd rather wait until the weekend, and we'd see what Big W [Target-ish] had in their tool aisle (adequate tools, but much cheaper)? We could always come back to the hardware store if she didn't see anything she wanted at Big W. She agreed.

We went home, and she wanted to use her new saw. So I grabbed a piece of scrap, let her use a 90-45 triangle to mark off a line, and cut the ragged end off. I've labeled, and saved, the end: her first offcut! :)

Thus, her toolbox kit stands as you see below:
  • tape measure
  • handsaw (crosscut)
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • combination wrench
  • claw hammer
  • brush (for clearing sawdust and shavings off the workbench)

A good start. And lots of room for expansion. :)


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Made a wooden thing for work

I have lots of family photos, amusing photocopies, and the like, hanging up at my cubicle at work. However, there's no good place for a calendar: I don't want to pound a nail (or hook) into the back of the bookcase on the other side of the divider, the sage green wall to the right is too hard for thumbtacks; and everywhere else is too short for the calendar I want to use (a calendar of Washington State scenery, from my parents).


Make a J-hook device out of wood. Put a nail in the non-hook end.

Hook it over the top of the bookcase.

Hang my calendar from that.

Yep. That works. :)

(Footnote: That little thing took me three months, I believe, to complete. Worked on in little snatches, while supervising the kids outdoors. The wood was salvaged from a construction dumpster: it may have been a slat that nailed a plastic tarp to a pallet. Amazing how much it cleaned up, once I handplaned it.)


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Proper weather

Yesterday (Friday), I decided to ''make an appearance'' at work: I've been working from home for the last two, or maybe even three, weeks.

(Click on the photos to enlarge, if you like.)

As it turned out, it was a rainy-drizzly day. Fine by me, though -- as I'm from the Pacific Northwest. This, I told my colleagues, is **proper** weather.

Alas: today it's all sunny again, with clear blue skies with just bare wisps of clouds. Bor-ring... ;)


Friday, April 16, 2010

Smart kid

A friend of mine from high school sent me this link. Basically, his son (whom we used to baby-sit, a zillion years ago), won this year's state Geographic Bee for the "4th-to-8th-grade" division. Next stop: the nationals, in Washington, D.C.

He's currently a sixth-grader -- which means that even if he **doesn't** win, this time, he still has two more go-rounds...

Hm! Wonder if -- should he win the nationals this year -- he's allowed to come back and re-win the next two years. **That** would be impressive.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Filetype amusement

The right people will understand this.

A colleague received a data file from a database person at a government agency she's been working with. The file extension was "*.csv" -- but she wasn't able to import it into her statistical software (she kept getting an error message saying “this data is not in comma-separated file format”).

However, MS Excel opened it just fine.

Turns out that the data person had saved the data as an *.xls file -- and then manually changed the file extension to *.csv.

Um. It doesn’t actually… work like that.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Using up the Easter chocolate

We have a 5yo daughter and two 2yo sons. My wife’s family has a custom of all the kids receiving a bag of Easter candy from each household. So, each of my kids got four bags of candy and chocolate (including the bag from us).

That’s a lot of chocolate – esp. for the two year olds. So, we have a fair surplus of Easter chocolate -- much of it being of only moderate quality, due to (I suspect) some sort of waxy additive that minizes the bunnies melting on store shelves.

Thus, I've found that you can use up chocolate by breaking it up and stirring it into your oatmeal, instead of raisins.

Sometime here, I should also make a batch of modified chocolate-chip cookies – using smashed chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies for the chips.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Pot plants

I have a running list, about twelve pages long, of Aussie-isms.

One of them is that Americans call ''potted plants'', Aussies call ''pot plants''.

The implication is that when we watch gardening shows on t.v., I get the giggles. :)


Sunday, April 11, 2010

I can now find the books

I’m messy, but organized – if that makes any sense.

To an outsider, things may **look** like there’s no order (e.g. my overflowing desk). But I prefer to have my things carefully organized and sorted. For example, even though our home office is a mess, all of our extra computer gear is sorted into labeled boxes: extra keyboards; extra mice; USB and Firewire cables; and etcetera.

So: My wife and I both like books. Between the two of us we have nine Ikea Billy bookcases full of books in the library, plus one in the bedroom, plus half of one in the family room, plus the need for two additional. (I think that sums to 11.5.)

In our old house I had the books pretty well categorized: not alphabetized, but grouped by topic. Martial arts books in one cluster; gardening books in another place; computer books somewhere else. And they were also grouped by sub-category: the martial arts books were clustered by the country of origin (Japanese, Chinese, Korean…), and sub-clustered by style (Karate, Aikido, Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Ninjitsu…)

Because of this, I could find a specific book in under sixty seconds. I like this. Drives me nuts when I have something (book, tool, spare part…), but I can’t find it.

Unfortunately, when we moved to our current place, the books got shelved out of order: even though I had been careful to box them by category, the person helping us just shelved them based on what fit, rather than by topic.

March 17th, I couldn’t stand it any more: I spent about an hour in there rough-grouping some of the books. Unfortunately, it’s rather crowded in there – and we really **do** need two more bookshelves, so there’s a bit of stacking and juggling.

Each night I'd set a timer and spend 10-15 minutes rearranging books. Haven't done it the last few days, but I'm pleased to say that I'm close to completion. Not **all** the topics are sorted. But most of the "main" ones are.

And that's enough for me. I can find stuff again.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rasiing the kid right

A few nights ago I surfed YouTube with The Girl (5yo) for music videos, as we sometimes do.

I'm pleased that she has the good taste to request “It’s Tricky” (Run-DMC), “99 Red Balloons”, “If I Only Had a Brain”, and “Video Killed the Radio Star”. She also sometimes asks to watch my Weird Al Yancovic DVD.

I must be raising her right. : )


Friday, April 09, 2010

Good turn of phrase

Last night (Thursday), The Girl was making faces --or as the Aussies say, ''pulling faces''. Then she called it a “dancing face”, and also said “my face is dancing”.

Love the innovative turns of phrase that little kids come up with.

That one's going on the ''potential song lyrics'' list. :)


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Steampunk home

Sooo cool! Check out this steampunk-style home -- for sale!!!

Note the functioning, Victorian-style computer. However, you may have to wait for an additional blog entry -- as currently, it's largely hidden behind my "flags of my blog readers" display.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Improving instant satay ramen

I picked up some instant/ramen that's satay style. It's... o.k.

To perk it up, I:

1) added a spoonful of peanut butter (because satay is supposed to be peanut-y);

2) added some milk -- near the end of the microwaving process (because satay is supposed to have coconut milk [isn't it?]); and

3) added some veggies (this, of course, cross-applies to all ramen-like noodle cooking).

And now, it's pretty darned good. Not **danged** good -- but still, tasty.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Lottery in five years


Let's say I won the million-$-plus lottery prize, and the kids are all in school (and old enough that one parent can easily get them all to bed by herself). Here's what I'd do with my life:

-Take a M/W/F martial arts class in the evening
-Find a sparring partner to try out moves that are tangential to what is covered in class
-Work out in my home gym/backyard gym (would first need to build one!) 4-6 days a week

-Teach one university course a year (or maybe, one a semester); just do the lectures, get someone else to do the grading
-Two days a week (i.e. 9am-5pm) spend on research

-Three days a week (9am-3pm) record music
-Every evening, practice three different musical instruments, spending 15 minutes per instrument

-Woodworking on weekend mornings or afternoons, and occasional evenings
-Building a few small outbuildings, such as a small artist's studio for The Girl, and a carport-ish structure for extra lumber
-Odd bits of yardwork during the day and on weekends: including clearing out some overgrown areas and laying out pathways between the various outbuildings for the kids to ride tricycles along

-Weekends and evenings hang out with my wife and kids; some of the above might also already be with the family

Hmm. Although, three nights a week for martial arts might mean that I don't see my kids that much during the evening. OTOH, I'd probably be the one picking them up from school -- so I'd see them for about four hours between school and when I left for practice.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Lottery wouldn't change my life

First of all: the back is a whooole lot better. I managed to not do anything stupid to it (or just stupid in general, for that matter), so it's about 80% back to normal. I'm still being careful, though.

But the purpose of this post: occasionally I daydream about what it would be like to win the lottery -- not the cheesy little "You've won $10,000" prize (which would be nice -- pay off some bills, invest most of it [hopefully!]). But rather, one of the life-changing, you-can-quit-you-day-job prizes -- probably a million dollars or greater. With a million bucks, you can invest it wisely, and basically live off the interest (if you're careful).

But today, I realized that -- at least for the next year or two -- my life wouldn't substantially change. I wouldn't give up my job, since I'm in the middle of ongoing projects and I'd like to see them through to completion. I wouldn't get any more time for woodworking, or music, or martial arts, as those are dependent on wrangling the young children. We wouldn't move, since we like our house, and its location.

So... yeah.

That's a good place to be: getting a million bucks wouldn't change your daily life.

Addendum: The Lady, however, might quit her job, or drop back to part-time. And **that** would mean I could do more stuff during the day...


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Woodworking shows that I'm older

Today is Easter Sunday, and after a late-afternoon family get-together as my wife's sister's place, the boys and I went home -- them, to play in the back yard, and I, to do some minor woodworking while supervising.

As noted in an earlier post, I've been using a modified sawhorse in a workbench, and keep my tools either inside the house or out in the shed. Usually, this means that although I have to hunch over to saw, drill, and etc., at least I have to stand up and walk a little between tasks.

Today, however, I spent the whole time chopping a pair of mortises by hand. I didn't drill out any of the waste material, like a lot of folks do -- so it was slower, but more interesting.

However, by the time we needed to go inside: whoops! Spending all that time hunched over made the lower right of my back seize up. I spent the rest of the night hobbling around, trying not to screw up my back further by doing anything foolish.

I don't think this would've happened to me in my 20s. But maybe. :)

Shows the importance of a workbench at an appropriate height...


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Too good to be true

At first, I was excited that a newfangled handplane company was offering handplanes in the colors of the rainbow. Green handplanes!

But, no: April Fools.


(And **that's** why you don't mess with graphic artists....)