Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Very good martial arts blog
If you're into martial arts (as a student of -- not as a movie buff): I recommend the blog Striking Thoughts.
I've been following this blog for a week or so -- and browsing through the archives, as I've waited for my data to process. Good stuff.
Bonus points for the incisive blog name.
(note: photo not from the blog; found it through a Google search, and liked it.)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
About three weeks ago we came home after dark, I opened the front gate, and saw this critter, illuminated by the headlights.
A possum. Note the difference from North American possums, which are more rat-like in appearance (pointy nose; whip-like tail). Australian possums look more like red pandas: round head, snub snout, and a much thicker tail.
I happened to have my camera pouch with me, so I took a few snapshots. This is the only one that at all turned out.
Labels: australian wildlife
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I have the Harmacy album from Sebadoah -- which I really like (nearly every song is excellent) -- and I also keep hearing about the band Fountains of Wayne, but never got around to checking them out.
So, thanks to the magic of the Grooveshark website (free streaming audio of a zillion bands [famous and non-famous]; thx to Tara H. for the tip!), I loaded up all their songs available.
Well. Sebadoah, sadly, I **only** liked the songs on the Harmacy album. YMMV, of course; but that's **my** aesthetic judgement.
Fountains of Wayne, OTOH -- **Wow!!!** Not necessarily my "New Favorite Band" -- but yeah, I'd pick up their albums. I like nearly every one of their songs. So, good. :)
This also bodes well towards my continuing efforts toward "keeping my musical tastes open". Over the last five weeks, I've discovered Chromeo, and Fountains of Wayne. And since the beginning of the year, I've discovered Petra Hayden (late March): she was in the Rentals, and has some solo albums of her acapella work (brilliant!!!; catchy, and good arrangements), and also Owl City (late February; good melodies, but also clever lyrics).
So, that's four bands that I like, since the beginning of the year. That's pretty good for a 40-something year old guy. :)
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Socks for the memories
I've been busy with work stuff for the last week, and The Lady's been ill, so we're low on clean laundry. This morning I needed a pair of socks, so I got a pair out of the box of stuff from my recently deceased paternal grandfather. Practical, sturdy grey socks: the sort of thing he'd wear out fishing, or in his woodshop.
I came out to the family room, and showed them off to my daughter.
"These were my grandpa's socks," I told The Girl.
"Why do you have your grandpa's socks?" she asked.
Pause. "Because he wasn't using them any more," I said.
"And now you're wearing them!" she said.
"And now I'm wearing them," I said quietly.
Friday, September 24, 2010
My paternal grandfather died recently, after being in assisted care for several years. Due to work and family commitments I wasn't able to attend the funeral (on another continent; would've taken 48 hours just for the round-trip travel).
This photo was displayed at the funeral: he's puttering about at his workbench. (To the right, on the wall, is a zillion crescent and box-end wrenches.) My uncle was kind enough to send me a high-resolution scan.
I'm gonna get a large-ish print made of it, and hang it up in my workshop, next to my workbench.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Sometimes things work out well, and sometimes they don't.
My research team at work has a project report that's due the middle of next week (auuugh!!!!), and my data analyses are a central component of it. Due to complexities with the data, I **wanted** to log some extra hours on it over this last week, between when my wife got home from work and when the kids go to bed: hide out in the study for 2-3 hours and work. (I'd still be doing my standard "10pm-1am shift" on top of this.)
However -- The Lady has been a bit ill for the last week, so I've been wrangling the kids rather than logging some extra hours.
I **really** needed to get at least half of my analyses to my co-worker by today (Thursday), so she could start typing up the graphs and tables. So, I stayed up late -- **really** late -- last night (and therefore, this morning) working on it. Around 3am I thought I had the data cleaning wrapped up, and I could start doing my analyses. And **then** I discovered a BIG glitch in the data. Gah.
So, I spent the next two hours trying to track down the source of the problem. But I couldn't find it -- and I'm basically out of time for that . So, around 5am I turned my attention to data analysis: gotta analyze it as it is, and just filter out the bad data (and make sure that I document that I did that). Got started, but about 5:30am I'd reached the end of my reserves: e-mailed my colleagues that I'd get the stuff to them by mid-morning today (Thursday).
Went to bed, and The Lady was kind enough to let me "sleep in" until 8am: so, two and a half hours of sleep. Then she went of to work, and I wrangled the kids.
Got everyone some breakfast, and from around 8:30am to 11am, cranked out some analyses, and e-mailed them off in stages. So at least my co-worker had something to work on today.
**Tried** to take a nap -- but unfortunately the kids picked this day to be squirmy and un-cooperative. But I think I racked up an hour and a half of interrupted sleep. Maybe two hours.
Usually, when I pull a super-late night I'm able to recoup by going to bed early the next night. But, not this time: I need to get the rest of my analyses to my co-worker tonight (Thursday night/Friday early morning) so she can make the graphs on Friday -- and write up my summaries for the project leader, so she can integrate my findings into the summary chapter.
But Friday night -- boy HOWDY, I'm goin' to bed...!!! :)
On the total PLUS side, however: today on Yo Gabba Gabba, Weird Al was the guest!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Wrote another song
Monday, September 20, 2010
Because it's school holidays this week, I was able to work a ''full'' day -- at work.
Usually, I'm the one that both drops off the kids at daycare and school in the morning -- and then picks them up again after school. So, my workday is constrained by when school is in session -- minus about a half hour at each end for getting to and from work, parking, and walking to (or from) the building. Basically, I'm at my desk for about four and a half hours.
So, to get stuff done, I work evenings and weekends -- usually about 9pm-midnight, or 10pm-1am or 2am -- somewhere in there.
But today, The Lady took the kids -- and it was **niiiice**. I was actually in at work -- for a reasonable length of time!
When I had questions, I could jump right up and consult with people. When I had a question for someone from another organization, I could e-mail him or her -- and get a response THE SAME DAY!!! (Usually, I e-mail at 10pm; they answer during the day; and I read their reply around 10pm the next night.)
And being able to sit down and focus, crank through a bunch of stuff, and be wide awake for it? Niiiice! I got soooo much stuff done!!!
Reeeeally looking forward to when the kids are all in school, so I can get me one of those Nine-to-Five types of jobs.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Dream of the house
When I was a kid, I always thought my paternal grandparents' house was pretty neat-o. My grandfather (and his father, and father-in-law) built the house themselves. It painted white, but with green trim (a little lighter than forest green; don't know what to call it). Although it was somewhat small, it had a pair of white pillars on the front porch. And it was on a double lot -- so the "empty" lot to the right had a veggie garden, and a chicken coop near the rear fence (used to have chickens; all of my life it was simply storage).
Sadly, when my grandpa went into assisted care a few years ago, it was sold, and thus passed out of the family. The house was remodeled a bit (Google maps satellite view shows a rear deck that's new) and the "empty" lot now has a pair of condos. The chicken coop seems to be gone.
So, during today's nap (I stay up crazy late to do work, then take a nap during the days to recoup, when the kids take their nap), I dreamed that I drove up to the house (for some reason), and there was the house -- **better** than I remembered it! It has the same green trim -- but otherwise it was totally a seafoam green (same color as the image in this post).
A guy that looked like a very blond-bleached Matthew McConaughey (the guy in this photo), in a Willy Wonka -like suit (but no hat) came out and welcomed me -- and then my grandmother (who pre-deceased my grandfather by several years -- so, I was super-glad to see her!). As I got out of the car, I could see that the veggie garden was lush and well-tended; the chicken coop had actual chickens pecking and scratching in a fenced-in area around it; and the small hill behind the house was even richer with vegetation than I remembered. And there may have been some sort of carnival ride on the hill, as well -- not sure.
Pretty neat-o. But then I woke up, so I don't know what happened next. Bummer.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Reconsidering wing chun
I'd have to say that my three main interests are music (songwriting, recording), woodworking (primarily hand tools), and martial arts (empty hand, rather than weapons).
Their relative priority shifts over time: music used to be the #1 thing, and I took up woodworking just to build racks and storage for my music gear. Lately I've been doing more woodworking than music -- largely because none of my recording gear is set up, and I don't have a place to set up my guitar gear. So, when I **do** play, it gets a bit frustrating.
Even though I miss being in a band, over the last week or two I've realized that I miss martial arts almost as much -- or maybe equally as much. It's not so much "learning how to hit people": rather, the body mechanics intrigue me -- particularly for the "soft" styles. (To over-simplify, "hard" styles rely on brute strength, blocking head-on, and toughening up your body; "soft" styles rely on finesse, and deflecting and re-directing.)
Although for the last two weeks I've been missing Aikido, to the point of Googling for local Aikido schools, a recent blog entry on a martial arts -oriented blog (check out the links -- they all go to short YouTube instructional videos!) made me reconsider Wing Chun. As I watched all those video clips, I was reminded of how Wing Chun uses finesse and deflection -- good stuff!
So, I'll have to Google some local WC schools, as well... :)
Labels: martial arts
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Walked by the conference room at worked, and noticed the aftermath of a meeting -- including a plate of various 1/4 sandwiches on a tray.
They were just sitting there, waiting for the university catering folks to come back and throw it all away. So, I stood there and grazed for a bit -- hadn't had lunch yet -- and then had to head back downstairs to check on a photocopy job.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Mansion of junk
Sunday, September 12, 2010
So, my neighborhood's "Put Yer Junk/Treasures Out on the Kerb" period appears to be over. Below is a summary of my treasures from my treasure scavenging, plus from another neighborhood a month or two ago.
But before I present my finds -- roughly sorted by category -- let me assert that picking up various and sundry items is VALID if you already know what you're going to do with them. :)
ALSO: note to potential burglars: There is NOTHING of obvious value in my workshop!!! Just a bunch of scrap lumber, old non-working PCs, and many, many boxes of lecture notes and photocopied academic journal articles. So, DON'T BOTHER...!!!
O.K. -- here goes...
First, I got several shelve-y things to put under the eaves to hold wood up off the ground: lets it dry (or "season") better than if it was on the ground, and protects it from termites.
Here's a white rack made of white PVC pipes; a green(!!!) ironing board; and a black metal stereo stand, including vertical slots underneath for your phonograph records.
Here's what used to be a green two-drawer storage unit. When I found it, the drawers were gone. So, I'm using it to hold slabs of wood (not pictured; put the wood on after the photo).
This one is white-painted tubular metal. It might have been the base to a bar 'fridge. It's now holding up wood.
A blue tub, and a blue plastic tool tote. The tools didn't come with -- rather, I've already pressed them into service.
More tubs and totes. One of the larger ones, after I wiped it off, is being used in the kids' play area to hold toys. The other ones will be used to hold scraps of wood (I intend to sort my wood by length, and by source).
Oh: and a piece of wood.
I think this is my favorite find of the season. From this angle, you can get a sense of the height and proportions of this shelving unit. The shelves seem to be exactly the right depth for cans of housepaint -- probably one of the main things this thing was built to hold.
This is the "inside" view. Unfortunately, the shed's getting a bit messy (and thus, crowded!) -- so I wasn't able to stand far back to get a sufficiently wide shot. Basically, though, two long, wide, shallow troughs, arranged above each other with sticks, to form four shelves. Eventually, I might retrofit some additional shelves in between.
And, here's why this shelving unit tickles me.
Clearly, made from an old packing crate. Maybe it was even sawn in half, and each half used as two of the shelf-pairs.
It has character. :)
Here's one of two pretty-much identical sawhorses.
I wanted to group both of them together when I took the photo, but couldn't find the other one. I did find it a few days later -- about four feet to the left of this one!
These two big rectangles of lumber will eventually become the basis of another set of shelves. And the funny cupboard door-looking thing, when inverted and stuck to the wall, will serve as a small shelf.
The framework at the rear will probably become a stand for a grinding wheel: I just need to add a few boards across the top. I might also add a few across the bottom, to serve as a shelf for holding ballast, to make it more stable.
The wooden box to the front will be a divider for the lumber rack I need to finish building: as I mentioned, I like to sort my lumber -- so lumber will go to the left, the right, and inside of it.
And, of course, a discarded PC.
Over the last few years, I've found myself grabbing old PCs. They intrigue me. I might put them into working order one day -- or I might give them to one of my kids, if any of them get into computers.
Meanwhile, old PCs take up a lot less space than collecting old cars "to someday restore".
So, there was one in the preceding photo. Here's another one.
And here's two more -- under those two rectangles of lumber I mentioned earlier.
I also grabbed two other PCs, after I shot these pics. So, that's six for this go-'round.
In addition to grabbing the old PCs (above) for their own sake, they're also a source of small inexpensive fans. One of these days I intend to set up a permanent soldering station (for electronics, electric guitar re-wiring, etc.), and I'll mount an array of surplus PC fans to wick the solder smoke away -- somewhat like this.
I also grabbed a few solar-powered lights. I tried one one, and it didn't work (flat battery?) -- but I'll still use the solar cells for something interesting: possibly link them together for more power, and use them to drive some sort of solar-powered music-making drone thing.
The bucket will join the other totes and tubs (earlier) to hold scrap lumber in the workshop.
And, here's the two answering machines -- described more fully in an earlier blog post. Basically, though, lotsa interesting electronics parts in there (switches, transformers, LED lights, etc.).
Some of these speakers are pretty sad. One or two or them need re-coning -- I'll give it a try. Or, I'll use the raggedy speakers as "effect" speakers, to run a guitar signal through and see if it sounds interesting (in a useful way, that is).
I'll probably remove the speakers and build my own speaker boxes: the main reason I got into woodworking was to support my musical interests (building racks and shelves and holders for my music gear).
Oh: picked up the chair, too. :)
This is a slightly fuzzy snapshot of the old-time radio cabinet that I picked up. Clearly, all the electronics are gone. Still has the speaker, though -- although it needs repair. Whether I repair the speaker or just replace it with a working one, I'll use this as a funky guitar amp (or at least, speaker cabinet).
This thing seems to be a pad that you put under a saddle, to make it more comfortable for a horse. I'll probably use it as a cushion for an office chair -- or maybe on a "guest chair" in my workshop.
This green blanket has already been pressed into service when I brought home the big ol' "paintcan shelf" (see earlier in this blog entry), strapped to the top of the car: used it so I didn't scrape up the roof. Still had the price tag -- seven bucks -- from a local thrift store on it. The black folding stepstool will probably end up in the workshop.
And finally, a little something for the kids: a bubble wand (works **really** well!!!)...
...and one of those Razor-style scooters. A bit of surface rust -- but everything works.
And **that's** my haul! :)
Friday, September 10, 2010
Got a CD in the mail
One of the nifty things about ordering online (and also mail-ordering things) is the antic....ipation of waiting for the things to arrive.
Just received a rare CD today in the mail, which I ordered from Amazon a few weeks ago. It's called GREEN FIELDS IN DAYLIGHT, by one of my favorite bands: an obscure Canadian group called The Nils.
The genre would be ''melodic punk'', I guess. Hard to make out a lot of the lyrics -- but the tunes are catchy. The tracks are from 1984-1988.
As a bonus to we guys of green, not only does the album have the word ''green'' in it, but the front cover is green. Bonus. :)
(Pause.) Aha! In Googling for an image of the album, I came across this website which provides audio examples. My favorites (based on the album of theirs I already own) are "River of Sadness" (track 19) and "When Love Puts on a Sad Face" (track 22). Obviously, there's other good ones, but the snippets that play don't highlight the best parts of the other songs.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
The sort of guy I am
As mentioned, for Father's Day this last weekend I was able to have whatever genre of meal I wanted -- Chinese food, Indian food, steak-and-potatoes restaurant...
I chose pizza. Because -- I like pizza.
I ordered online, and then went and picked it up (with my daughter, who came with me because it was Father's Day so she thought she should accompany). I ticked the box for the deep-dish pizza, rather than thin or regular crust -- not because I'm a big huge fan of deep-dish over "regular" crust -- but because it was the same price, but you get more bread. So, more for free.
I also ticked the "add garlic" and "extra oregano" boxes, because those upgrades were free. I do like garlic, and although I probably wouldn't notice the oregano -- hey! Free.
I did not, however, choose the sweet chili addition -- 'cause even though it was free, I'm not into that flavor.
So: I'm the sort of guy that accepts free stuff, even if I don't have an immediate use for it. Because - hey! free dummy.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Sprintes brand potato chips
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Australian Fathers Day
(Again, I've intentionally omitted the apostrophe from this blog's title: it generates a weird character code in the URL.)
Today was Father's Day in Australia, and the photo to the left has very little to do with what I did today. Except that it's a photo of me.
Lovely weather today (and yesterday) -- springtime-y. Wish I could've done some yardwork, or maybe puttered around in the shed, or did some yardwork. Instead, logged a lot of hours cleaning this data for work. Ah well -- getting near done.
The kids gave me a bunch of things they made at school/daycare. Cute! Also a book on tools.
The Lady gave me a few things, including two Steve Irwin DVDs and a roofer's hatchet.
Father's Day, so dealer's choice for dinner. I ordered pizza. Two larges are about right for us -- but I ordered three, in order to wrangle some leftovers.
All in all, a good day. Lotsa hugs. :)
I probably **should** stay up 'til 2am or so to work on this data -- but, dagnabit!, it's Father's Day. So I'm calling it quits at midnight. Plus or minus two hours isn't gonna ruin my timeline. ;)
Friday, September 03, 2010
We have three children under six, so it's a whole lot easier if both parents wrangle the kids on evenings and weekends.
But eventually (??!!) the kids will be a little more self-contained, such that they won't need constant supervision in the evenings, and one adult can wrangle them for the weekly grocery trip.
Given that future state of affairs, here's my plan:
-Back when I was actually recording music, I could record, and mix, an entire song in almost exactly eight hours.
-This "eight hours" did not include working out the lyrics, chords, or various instrumental parts; that is, I had to already have a clear sense of all the parts.
-I'll have my music gear set up, such that I can be powered-up and playing (or recording) within just a few minutes.
-Most weeknights I'll play music for a half hour to an hour. Much of this will be songwriting related (e.g. finalizing lyrics; working out the various instrumental parts). Some of this will end up recorded.
-Spent part of a day (i.e., around 4 hours) on the weekend recording and/or mixing.
-THEREFORE, I should have a song recorded every fortnight (i.e., every two weeks). Post a rough mix to my blog; live with it for a few days, and possibly create (and post) a "revised mix" a few days later.
-Try to produce catchy enough tunes that they go semi-viral; try to provide new content with enough frequency that people actually check back.
-Aspire to -- not fame, per se; not fortune -- but that lots of people have my music on their mp3 players.
-ALTHOUGH -- if I get enough of a following, split my releases between the free downloads on my blog, and purchased ones on some mp3-sales site.
All this, of course, is in the future. :)
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Music equipment of the Pacific Northwest
Over the last half-year I've discovered that there's a fair number of music equipment manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest -- some of them directly in the Seattle area.
A shame that I didn't know this back when I was temp-ing, or I would've tried to get hooked up with them folks: much more useful (to me) employee discounts than working at a clothing store, a hospital billing department, or a sun-protective clothing mail-order place.
GUITAR/BASS EFFECTS PEDALS:
Devi Ever: Portland, OR; lotsa nifty-looking fuzz pedals
Tortuga Effects: Seattle, WA; Pacific NW-themed effects pedals, including "Rain Delay" echo/delay pedal, and the Sasquatch fuzz pedal (photo above); plus non-Pac. N.W. themed, as well
Lollar Guitars: Vashon Island, WA
T.V. Jones:m Poulsbo, WA; custom electric guitars, too
Guitar Cousin: Seattle-ish, WA; hand-wound his own, for his grandson's science fair project
Mackie: Woodinville, WA; mixers, plus various studio monitors and recording gear
Cascade Microphones: Olympia, WA ; ribbon mics