Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I need this

Found this by accident when I was Google-imaging for ''glow in the dark brain'' photos for my Thursday post (and, BTW, I'm not sure I like Google image's new interface).

Given that I collect glow-in-the-dark stuff -- this seems pretty darned cool. Not for use as actual T.P. -- but just for draping about the room.

Here's one source, in the UK. Haven't tried Googling for US or Aussie sources.


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Friday, July 30, 2010

Mixed luck

This afternoon my two sons (both two years old) and I had a nap in the ground-level playpen. The beauty of the playpen is that it's large enough that I can stretch out and sleep decently, but it keeps the boys safe while I sleep, as it's a controlled environment (just blankets and such -- no sharp pointy things).

However, I wake up to the voice of my youngest son (not potty trained!) saying "Pee-pee! Pee-pee!" I open my eyes, and he's sitting on my foot -- and has shucked off all his clothes! Oops.

The good news is that although I searched that end of the playpen for wet spots, the only wet spot was my sock! A weird coincidence -- but I'll take it. A **much** easier clean-up.


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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Insights into my psychology

Two things I did today might serve as insights into my psychology.

First, I was at the hardware store, buying some green(!!!) spray paint -- and discovered that they have glow in the dark spray paint!!! Two brands, even -- one for about AU$20, and the other for AU$23. So, I bought both -- just to see if there was a meaningful difference. (There was: the more expensive one glows much more strongly.)

Later today, I was at an antique store, and nearly bought a AU$25 child's stool: slightly rustic looking, and a clever and unique design. And I wouldn't be able to get a wooden stool at Ikea (or etc.) for any cheaper.

But as I was considering it, I realized I had mis-read the price: it was $35, not $25. Ah. And now that I was expecting $25, $35 didn't seem like such a bargain (although it was still a reasonable price, as these things go). Given that I was only somewhat in favor of buying it at $25 (rather than being overwhelmingly in favor), that price change made me uncertain. But I decided that if I could negotiate a discount for paying cash (rather than putting it on a credit card, which charges the merchant a 3% (?) handling fee, I'd go for it.

I took it to the lady at the checkout counter and offered thirty bucks -- but she said that she wasn't allowed to give discounts on anything less than a hundred dollars. Fine then: no sale.

SO: I'm a guy that will pay an extra twenty-three bucks for an (arguably redundant) can of glow-in-the-dark spray paint -- just to do a comparison test for the somewhat better one -- but won't pay an extra five bucks on a thirty dollar stepstool.

Granted: at that price point, I was ambivalent over the stool -- but excited over the glow-in-the-dark paint. I mean: glow-in-the-dark. The possibilities...!!!


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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My phone went walkabouts

For the past few months I've just been working from home, as I save myself about an hour from the round-trip commute -- including walking between the parking lot and the building where my cubicle is.

However, the last few weeks I've been going in once a week, for ''project status'' meetings. Sure.

I get to my cubicle this morning, and someone's swiped the cordless phone from my desk, and placed an old-ish ''corded'' phone instead. That's bit rude: no note, no explanation.

Someone told me that they took all the cordless phones from my suite and moved them all to a different building. Not a **big** deal -- but again, a little rude. Especially since the phone they left me doesn't work.

I talked to the lady in the administrative office upstairs, and she'll have someone take a look at my phone, to see what's up.

BTW -- the "Dude, Where's My Car" movie? Saw the last half of it on t.v. a few years ago: actually pretty amusing. Well-played.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

If wishes were horses

Personal insight #178: It is fine to say, “I wish I knew how to play the bagpipes.”

But it will not happen unless I purchase some bagpipes. And then actually take the time to practice.



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Monday, July 26, 2010

I MUST see this movie

I **must** see this movie:

And, one more trailer:

(Soooo hope it doesn't suck...)


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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Very good home made fruit slushies

As a follow-up to my slushie post: Here's my self-invented fruit smoothie.

Here's the secret trick: cube the fruit, and then freeze it ahead of time!!! This gives the slushie a dense, frosty consistency -- and is more flavorful than using ice cubes (which just dilute things).

So: I'll cube a cantaloupe, then put it in a big tupperware container in the freezer. It usually just takes a day.

If you're in a hurry, spread them out on a single layer on a cookie sheet before sticking them in the freezer: then it just takes a few hours. You'll have to chip 'em off the tray -- but they come off pretty easily. And they're less likely to stick if you pat the underside dry.

Once I have my frozen cubes, I break a few off each other, and put them in the blender. Don't worry about getting them down to single cubes: two or three stuck together are fine, as long as the combined shape is narrow enough to reach the blender blades.

A splash of vanilla is optional: I usually didn't bother.

In the beginning stages, only the bottom layer will pulverize, and the rest of the frozen cubes just sit on the top. Add just enough milk (gives a smoother consistency than water) until there's enough fluidity that you get ''churning'' -- the top stuff gets sucked into the vortex and hits the blades.

If you accidentally add too much milk, toss in one or two frozen cantaloupe cubes to thicken things up again.

Cantaloupe is sufficiently sweet that you don't need to add any sugar: I suppose that's healthy.

This works with pretty much any frozen fruit.
  • Bananas are a rather overpowering flavor, actually, so I usually don't use 'em.
  • Strawberries (the large, commercial ones that have been bred for appearance and size, not flavor) are surprisingly bland.
  • Watermelon is good, but a bit more brittle than cantaloupe (less fiber, I suppose).
  • Blueberries and raspberries work well. And you can usually find them pre-frozen at the grocery store, as ''pie filling''.
Mix and match to taste, of course.

During the summer, I'd have two plastic tubs of cantaloupe in rotation: one that I'd draw from, and one that was freezing up.

My slushie rule of thumb: A straw must stand upright in it, by itself. Otherwise, it just ain't right.

Like many of my food fixations (PB & honey sandwiches; green tea), I'd abruptly start making one or two a day (I wouldn't bother washing the blender -- I'd just keep it in the 'fridge). And then, for no discernible reason, I'd abruptly stop. Although, with these, it would somewhat relate to a change in the weather: less hot.


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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Slushie rankings

Around here, there are six sources for cola-flavored slushies. Here is my assessment of their relative worth:

  • McDonald's: Advantage: nearly everywhere; consistency in flavor. Disadvantage: smaller sizes and greater cost per size than several other options; a somewhat sharp or acidic taste to it.
  • Hungry Jack's (the Aussie naming of Burger King): Advantage: large sizes at a reasonable cost; almost as pervasive as the McDonald's ones; consistency in flavor. Disadvantage: somewhat mild taste.
  • 7-11: Advantage: the best cost-effectiveness; widest range of available sizes; one of the best flavors. Disadvantage: fewer available than in Seattle (exception: many of them in downtown Brisbane); they sometimes change the flavors of the cylinders around, leading to weird fake-fruity aftertaste from the residue of the previous flavor. (Note: Larger 7-11s sometimes have dual cylinders of cola flavor: this increases the odds that at least one will **not** be in "defrost" mode, and maximizes the odds that at least one of them is a ''pure'' cola flavor [i.e., no fruity residue].)
  • Donut King: Advantage: the best flavor; best consistency. Disadvantage: only available in the mall; terribly expensive.
  • Movie theatres: Advantage: none, except for being yet another source. Disadvantage: somewhat pricey (on a par w/ the best flavored, Donut King); hard to tell ahead of time the precise flavor.
  • Various cafes with slushie machines: Advantage: none, except for being yet another source. Disadvantage: poor consistency (too sloppy, not "snowy" enough); usually weird flavor.
Conclusion: Hungry Jack's for general servicing of your slushie needs. 7-11 when you can find it. Donut King on the odd occassion when you're willing to splurge.

Somehow, I think I blogged about this a few years ago. But that's o.k.: it's an important topic.



Friday, July 23, 2010

Recalling my youth

Stopped by a 7-11 for a Slushie today, and there were two guys in front of me -- looked about 20 or 22. There was some sort of "various things for a dollar" sale (ice cream treats, candy bars, bags of chips...) going on at the 7-11, so these guys had filled up two bags with junk food, for eighteen dollars.

I commented to them -- with my graying hair and receding hairline: "Enjoy your high metabolism while you can..."

It very much reminded me of myself during an earlier period of my life -- about 20-22 years old -- when I worked one and a half jobs (picking up and crating art and antiques; movie theatre), plus was in a band with my Guitar Cousin and Captain Crash (co-worker at the movie theatre, and eventual roommate).

I didn't get a lot of sleep during that period: every night I either worked at the movie theatre (and got home around 11:30pm), or else had band practice (and then stayed up late watching rented movies on videotape with Guitar Cousin and Crash). And on weekends we'd often go out to catch a local band.

But, good times. None of us had a girlfriend; all of us would've **liked** to have had a girlfriend.

It was also the first time that I didn't live with a family member (e.g. parents, grandparent), nor in a college dorm room. Independence!!!

I had a pretty garbagey diet, though: this was my fronut period. I was working 1.5 jobs (i.e., about 60 hours a week) to save up to go back to college (I'd done two and a half years, then ran out of money) -- so I had money in the bank, but was spending very little. Employees at the movie theatre had free popcorn -- so I ate a lot of that. I'd also visit the Safeway behind the movie theatre and buy a loaf of bread and a can of Spaghetti-O's, and make Spaghetti-O sandwiches for dinner. With a head of lettuce on the side.

And because I'd get home most nights around 11:30am, and had to be at work around 8:30 (? - it's been a while...) the next morning, I didn't have much time to make dinner. So dinner was usually one-fourth of a half-gallon of cookies 'n' cream ice cream. And a multivitamin. Sometimes another head of lettuce.

I'd eat better at Guitar Cousin's house, though, after band practice: as I recall, it often included actual veggies and such.

Anyhow: a happy, simpler time. As opposed to my happy but complex time right now. ;)

Oh: and that photos isn't of us. It's just something I got off the web, when I Googled "guys in garage band".


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two tool things

Two tool things.

First, I **finally** found an appropriately large triangular file (photo by The Girl). Asked Next-Door-Uncle, who suggested a tool shop I hadn't tried. When I phoned them, it turns out they don't carry files -- but they referred me to yet another tool shop which **does** carry files.

Phoned this new place, and -- yep! -- had one of sufficient size. Stopped by on Tuesday, on my way home from work (same general part of town).

So, Yay! I can now sharpen my ripsaw with appropriateness.

Second, my mortise chisel came yesterday! It's my first mortise chisel, and I've never actually seen one in person -- just photos. So I was surprised at how hefty it was: see photo (also by The Girl).

And my new file is pretty decent-sized, as well: 5/8" wide.

O.K. -- so maybe that's not exciting for **you**. But it's exciting for **me**!!! :)


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Thought this was a good follow-up to yesterday's ''fronut'' blog entry -- inspired by Tara's comment.

This is from the generally brilliant online comic XKCD.


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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fun and frosty summertime treat

When I was in my early 20s and low on money, I worked across the alley from a bakery surplus outlet: I could get a box of a dozen day-old donuts for two bucks.

I'd eat about half of them for lunch, then take the rest home and put them in the freezer for dinner for the next night.

From this came the fun and frosty summertime treat of frozen donuts. Love 'em.

Hmm -- let's call them ''Fronuts'', shall we? :)

Just had one a few hours ago: hence, this blog post.


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Monday, July 19, 2010

Spiff me

Back when I worked retail, a ''spiff'' was the $10 bonus we got whenever we sold certain ''high priority'' brands of shoes. Now I call any sort of small reward or reinforcer of good behavior a spiff -- e.g., tossing the dog half a dog biscuit when he's on the way outside when we're locking up the house to leave.

So, as I mentioned recently, I've been putting in some long hours. Since I'm on wages (i.e., hourly), rather than salary, this is pretty much doubled my income for the month. So, I decided to spiff myself by getting a little something.

My wife bought a pair of shoes. Not my thing -- but fair enough.

I considered buying a stylophone -- a funky little synthesizer that you play with a stylus. Or maybe its cousin, a little drum machine thing. But, I know it's at least a half a year -- realistically a **minimum** of a year -- before I get back into recording. So I decided to go with something that's more immediately useful.

I cast about, looking for a triangular file that's at least 1/2" on a side -- for sharpening one of my larger-toothed handsaws. But oddly, no one seems to carry one! (Not the local ''big box'' hardware store; not the speciality woodworking tools shop; nor either of two ''tradesperson'' tool supply places.)

So, I ended up getting these (all ''used'' -- bargain!):
  • my first mortise chisel (a **real** mortise chisel, which is heavier-duty than a ''sash chisel''); mine is pictured at the start of this blog entry
  • my first moulding plane (examples of moulding planes), and
  • another splitting wedge (very shallow angle: about 5 degrees)
The mortise chisel I bought online from a used handtool website that's here in Queensland; the other two I picked up from the antiques shop we visited yesterday (I bargained five bucks off the purchase...).

This is an interesting indicator of where music versus woodworking is in my life: given $X to spend, I spend it on tools, not music gear.

Although that balance will shift, presumably, over time.


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Sunday, July 18, 2010

More to life than work

So, this weekend was the end of The Lady's two weeks of vacation -- all of which we've spent with her wrangling the kids, and me working on this project for work.

(The exception was Saturdays, which are ''swimming lessons and errands day'', where we **both** wrangle the kids.)

Today (Sunday), I went **pphbbbtttt!!!** on my project, and we spent the day hanging out as a family.

  • Multinational hamburger chain for breakfast, where the kids played on the playground
  • Dropped off books at the library
  • Then off to an antiques mall that we hadn't visited for a looong time (the 2yo twins had to be strapped in to the stroller, to prevent expensive ''accidents'')
  • Swing by the multinational hamburger chain again for toilet useage, plus takeaway lunch
  • Picnic at park, followed by hours of the kids playing
  • Then, home, with playing in the back yard and sandbox, while I supervise and saw yet another (short!) log in half
Didn't turn the computer on **once**!!! (This blog entry was composed and posted retroactively.)

Went to bed early, too! (Read for about an hour, then to bed around 10pm.)

A good day.

Actually, they're nearly all good days. So, a **particularly** good day, then! :)


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Saturday, July 17, 2010

True Blue Aussie

Hm. I'm becoming Australian-ized. (Not surprising: been here eight years.)

When something goes missing, I no longer say that it's "gone missing".

I say that it's "gone walkabouts".

("Anyone seen my pen? Seems to have gone walkabouts.")

Got the phrase from my wife -- but it's pretty standard.



Friday, July 16, 2010

Band sounds like They Might Be Giants

I might have posted an entry on this years ago: still valid, though.

If you enjoy They Might Be Giants, then you'll probably also enjoy Logan Whitehurst and the Jr. Science Club. One guy, catchy music, clever but somewhat odd lyrics. If you're a fan of TMBG (esp. their older and mid-era stuff, I **highly recommend** this guy!!!). (I'm hoping that this will catch a few people's Google searches of ''Bands That Sound Like They Might Be Giants"...)

Example here (streaming audio): Robot Cat.

Sadly, he died a few years ago, at a rather young age (29 y.o.). But if you feel like buying a CD or two of his, the proceeds go to charity.

Note that (from memory -- I bought all of his available albums as a self-reward after I finished my Dissertation) the "Store" link (I think) is flawed -- and one of the two links for his two most recent albums links to a defunct online store. So actually, USE THIS LINK (to Pandacide records).

If you just get one album, Goodbye My 4-Track is a good one. If you get two, you should also get Very Tiny Songs (similar in concept to They Might Be Giant's "Fingertips" medley).

Genius, genius, genius... One of my ten favorite bands/artists of all time (somewhere up there with TMBG, Devo, the Ramones, Bell, the Cars, the Smithereens...).

Very sad.



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spiffing oneself

Well, The Lady bought a nice pair of shoes today. (She likes shoes ...) So she said that I'm entitled to buy my ''whatever'' as well. ;)

(Not the ones pictured; I just wanted a photo of some shoes.)



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Or maybe not

This photo is from here -- the "Friends of Irony" site.

It's a good website.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Treating myself

For the last week and a half, The Lady has been on vacation, and has done most of the child-wrangling -- leaving me time to make some progress on this woefully behind-schedule project at work (not my fault!).

Thus, I've been workin' some long, long hours -- and still have at least a week to go.

We're only on one-point-two incomes (or some-such) at the moment, since usually I stay home with the kids, and do my hourly (paid) work on weekends and evenings. So generally, we're pretty sensible with our money.

But, since I get paid by the hour -- and I'm logging far more than my usual 20 hours/week -- so I'm strongly thinking of taking a hundred bucks or so and buying... something.

I'm feeling -- I don't know... ''entitled''? Something like that.

Of course, the stuff I plan to splurge on would bore most people: a large triangular file, to sharpen a really large saw -- maybe a woodworking book or two.

Such recklessness.


IMPORTANT ADDENDUM: Mentioned this to The Lady, who pointed out that I've been able to achieve these long hours only because she's facilitated them -- picking up extra shares of the housework, wrangling the kids, and etc. A good point, and completely true. So, I'll be sharing my "bonus money" with her.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Interesting event

--> This video clip <--- was kinda interesting. (Received from my Fine Woodworking Magazine e-mail newsletter.)

Like something outa "COPS".



Wednesday, July 07, 2010

For zombie hunting

Someone on my woodworking list forwarded this link (the photo in question is above). My first thought: zombie hunting.


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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The joy of young children

Near the front door, we have a hall table that we use for things that need to go out: letters to be mailed, rental DVDs to be returned, things that need to be taken to work, and etc. There’s also a short wall (about mid-thigh height) behind it, which performs the same role.

Today there was a DVD that had to go back to the video rental place near the boys’ daycare centre. My wife phoned me from the side of the road, saying she was just about to turn in to the daycare parking lot when she remembered the DVD: was it still out, or had I turned it in? I hadn’t, so she came back to get it.

I checked, and some young child had apparently knocked it off the wall, onto the floor behind – behind a chair, where no one can see it. (I’d just presumed that my wife had returned it.)

Doesn’t do much good to have a “Take Me!” location if the items disappear from it.

The joy of young children.



Monday, July 05, 2010

Like something I would do

Neat-o! This totally looks like something I would do.

Although the music I would make would be very different: for one thing, it would have room for vocals. :)


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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Perhaps not so strangely, now that I don't live in the U.S., the Fourth of July just sliiiides on past, without me noticing it.

This isn't the Australian national anthem, but maybe it should be: it's "Home Among the Gum Trees", by John Williamson -- an Australian folk singer (or maybe country? dunno). Not to be confused with John Williams, the classical music guy.

His Anthems album is full of songs about Australia, and "Home Among the Gum Trees" is on it. (Actually, it's probably on all of his compilations...) A good song. (Just click the little "play" button in the bottom left of your screen.)


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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Movie review of Ghost Town

My movie review of Ghost Town.

Saw it 6/20/10, but just now getting an chance to formally review it: been busy at work, with a ''Project That Will Not Go Away".

The storyline -- minus any plot twists or spoilers -- is that a grumpy dentist acquires the ability to see and talk to ghosts. A dead guy wants him to intercede to keep his widowed wife from marrying a guy she shouldn’t.

There are minor romantic comedy aspects, and few amusing bits, but nothing hee-larious. The director seems to think that the main character (the dentist) is more amusing than he actually is.

From memory (although it's been two weeks...), I snorted and garumphed a few times, but no actual laughter during the first 80% of the movie.

More specifically, something about the first 80% just didn’t grab me -- the dialog? the pacing? Dunno. The final fifteen minutes or so were the best -- actually fairly good. It would be handy if I could just tell people to only watch the last section -- except that you really **do** need the first 80% of the movie to set things up.

CONCLUSION: Rent the DVD if you can’t find anything else -- and keep your expectations low. Not a **bad** movie -- just bland.



Thursday, July 01, 2010

Thank you for the music

To the best of my recollection, here's a list of people who introduced me to bands that I like.

-My dad: He always had the radio on, or the phonograph playing (and later, the 8-track, then cassette deck, then CD player...). Thus: Creedence Clearwater Revivial, Simon and Garfunkel, Peter Paul and Mary, Rolf Harris, Four Jacks and a Jill, and the Beatles; oh! and because a newspaper interview with They Might Be Giants poked fun at Republicans, he bought us their first album (he didn't take to it, but my brother and I did)

-Guitar Cousin: Weird Al Yancovic, Men at Work, Queensryche, and (indirectly) The Nils (an obscure Canadian band)

-Jennifer Fahnestalk/Nezumi: Sisters of Mercy

-Mike Gardner (from 6th grade): Devo (Freedom of Choice album)

-Eric Schwendtke: Petra

-Those girls that volunteered at the hospital with me when I was in high school (Julie & Debbie?): Tears for Fears

-That Coast Guard guy who worked at the movie theatre with me and loaned me a bunch of tapes and LPs, then quit and worked at that convenience store a few blocks away, then moved away without telling me (such that I couldn't return his stuff): early Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (I had Full Moon Fever, but wasn’t familiar with the early stuff), Rush