Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Defense against a headlock

See, **this** is what I like about martial arts: the clever application of body mechanics.

I doubt I ever would have come up with this myself.

Also -- the instructor is from Australia! :)



Monday, November 29, 2010

Best Seattle Band ever

My favorite Seattle band might have to be Mah Jong (David Nixon, Sadiq Lew, plus a rotating cast of additionals). Sadly, no concert footage that I could find. But, I **did** find this YouTube "documentary":

Catchy tunes, witty lyrics, and an excellent stage show. Who could ask for anything more?


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Friday, November 26, 2010

A happy birthday

My birthday was the best in a long while, with only two minor flaws: nicely done.

I stayed home with my two sons today, as I do most days of the week. They were actually well-behaved today (for the last two weeks they've started to pick on each other). Watched about two-thirds of the "When I Met Your Mother" DVD (rather stingy of whoever portions out the DVDs: each season is broken into three or four disks, which you then have to rent separately).

When the boys went down for a nap, I had a lovely nap as well.

Picked up the girl from school. Sawed a bit of wood.

Took the kids to swimming. Then The Lady took us all out to an Indian restaurant.

Home. The Girl gave me a picture she'd drawn, plus a card she'd made. The kids gave me a little frog statue, plus a drum (an inexpensive rack tom). The Lady gave me another drum (a floor tom).

Intended to go to bed at a "normal person" time (i.e., around 9pm).

As I said, there were only two downsides to the day. First, on the way to, and at, the Indian restaurant, my innards weren't feeling too good. So, I didn't eat as much as I normally would. But, that just meant more leftovers for the next day! By the time we got home, I was fine.

And second, when I checked e-mail just before going to bed, a co-worker had asked me (around 3pm, but this was the first I'd checked e-mail) to review and re-write a fe things, that had to be back to her by the next morning. So instead of going to bed around 9pm, or maybe reading for a bit and then going to bed, I ended up doing work stuff until about midnight. (Ah, well: I get paid by the hour.)

A really pleasant day.


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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dutch windmill sawmill

This was shared on the handtools woodworking list to which I belong. It's a Dutch wind-powered sawmill -- still very much in operation.

The YouTube video shows them dragging the log out of the water using (presumably) the windmill's power; rotating the direction of the vanes to better catch the wind (they pivot the whole darned top of the tower!); and cutting big ole slabs off the sides.

Good stuff -- brought to you by the magic of Y'allTube!


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interesting workout

I suppose this workout (below) is to train you to be physically active during situations when you need to be wearing a gas mask.

Interesting circuit training routine, anyhow. Although it seems like you should switch hands with the sledgehammer every now and then.

Found it through this person's blog entry.


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Monday, November 22, 2010


In our household, we've tended to color-code things for our (fraternal) twin boys: Eric gets green things (shirts, socks, plates, cups, toy cars...) and Nathan gets blue things.

Because of this, for the last month or two, both E and N will point to things of that color and identify it as "My [name of item]!" or "[Name of other boy]'s [name of item]!" For example, if we're in a parking lot and see a green car, Eric will point to it and declare "My car!"

We've also -- for our own reference as well as theirs -- marked their items with an "E" or an "N". And thus for the last month or two, they've also (correctly!) identified items based on those letters -- to the extent that over the last half-month when they see an "E" or an "N" as part of a store sign (e.g. "SAFEWAY"), they'll point to that letter and declare "Eric!" or "Nathan!"

But -- I was curious as to whether the color, or the letter, had priority: how would they respond when presented them with a letter that was the "opposite" color -- i.e., a blue "E" or a green "N"?

For the first run-through, I presented the blue "E", then the green "N", and followed them up with a blue, then green, capital "Delta" (basically, a hollow triangle). Both both boys prioritized the letter over the color, declaring the blue "E" to be Eric's and the green "N" to be Nathan's. Thus, language appears to trump the color-coding.

For the second run-through (performed on the following day), I wanted to see if being "primed" with the color assigned to a neutral geometric shape (the delta-triangle, again) would increase the importance of the color, rather than the letter. So, this time I showed the blue, then green delta (both boys assigned the color to the correct person), and **then** did the blue "E" and the green "N".

Nathan prioritized the letter over the color -- despite having been first shown the blue triangle. Eric, however, said "Nathan" (rather than "Eric"!) for the blue "E" -- and then said "Nathan" again for the green "N". However, when I then returned to the blue "E", on that second try he said "Eric". This suggests that the meaningfulness of the shape, as opposed to the color, is not quite as firmly embedded in Eric: Nathan's prioritization of the letter over the color persisted despite being "primed" with the color-only stimulus, whereas Eric's prioritization was shifted by it.

I should note that the letters were centered on a folded-over piece of typing paper, and each was about half the width and length of that folded-over paper. Also, the thickness of the letters, and the Delta, was about as wide as my pinky finger (a little under a half inch), so the color was fairly apparent.

Also, each boy was presented with the stimuli in isolation from the other boy.


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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Disappointing movies

A good article on movies that should have been really good -- but weren't.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ear thing

One of my sons has a mild-to-moderate hearing loss, so he's supposed to wear hearing aids -- although he gets along just fine without them.

Today I stood behind him and put in his hearing aids.

“Can you hear me?”, I asked.

“No,” he said.


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Friday, November 19, 2010

Psych major humor

I'm analyzing some survey data, and the software I'm using truncates the prompt (the wording of the question from the survey) at a certain number of characters.

Thus, question #105, in the section on prosocial/antisocial attitudes, came up as "How wrong do you think it is for someone your age to: attack someone with the id".

An interesting concept: psychic Freudian warfare...

The full text was "...attack someone with the idea of seriously hurting them?" Not nearly as funny.



Thursday, November 18, 2010


Now that I'm officially into my 40s, I've noticed that my energy levels, and general creakiness, has noticeably increased. Not to horrible levels -- but enough to make me think that my body has entered a new mode.

Like, wake up with a sore neck more often than I used to. Every two months or so -- which isn't a lot -- but still, it's more.

Or my general energy levels. Over the last year or so, if I'm sitting down or flopped out on the couch, I'm more likely to ask the kids to fetch something for me, rather than getting it myself. But, maybe that's just 'cause the kids are more capable than they were a year ago. ;)



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Got cramps

The title to this blog entry is actually a bit of a pun: in the UK, they call clamps "cramps".

Wooden clamps are darned useful for creating a "handle" on your workpiece, when you're doing woodworking: once you have your "handle", then you can use a regular clamp to lock the whole thing to your workbench. (An application of that is explained here -- which is also the source of the above photo.)

I had a birthday a few days back, and I included wooden handscrews (i.e., wooden clamps) on my wish list. Well, my parents-in-law bought me a pair of 'em. So, now I have some! They will very, very much come in handy. :)


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Days of Night

I had high hopes, when I rented 30 DAYS OF NIGHTS on DVD. A good premise: a small town in Alaska, where in mid-winter they get 30 days of no sunlight, gets taken over by a group of vampires.

Unfortunately, the execution did not live up to its potential. In my assessment.

The big indicator: It was a weeklong rental. I got interrupted about halfway through the movie, and never came back to it. So, the night before it was due back, I skipped to the final scene, just to see how it ended. And, eh. Defied logic a bit. Several aspects of the final "showdown" fight, actually.

Rent it only if you're **big** into vampire movies -- because, yes, it **is** a vampire movie. Not **horrible**. Just "eh".

In my assessment.



Friday, November 12, 2010

Guitar demo for the kiddies

Yesterday I did my now-annual ''guitar demo/guitar indoctrination" for my daughter's class. I'll probably keep doing it each year until she's out of gradeschool.

Basically, I"m trying to plant the seed of guitar-ness: if I manage to get a few of them to (when they're a little older) pick up the electric guitar, when they otherwise wouldn't have -- then, yeah: mission accomplished. (Bwah ha ha...) :)

Brought two guitar amps, a bass amp, an electric bass, two little kid-sized electric guitars, a regular-sized electric, and an old acoustic. Also a few effects pedals.

It was a bit awkward, since I was setting up in the school gym. I was told I'd have a half hour to set up -- which ended up not being true, as there as another class in there. Once they cleared out, the teacher's aide and I hauled my gear onto the stage -- and within about two minutes the kids come filing in. Wha???

**Totally** not ready: since I thought I had a half hour to prepare, none of the guitars were in tune, no 9V batteries in the effects pedals, etc. So, turned it into a "teaching moment" (no other choice, really) -- talked the kids through the process, as I was doing things. Ended up not tuning my guitar; also ended up not changing from my "regular" shirt into my "rock guy" shirt. Ah well.

I'd had a busy week, so I hadn't pre-tested a lot of my gear. Turns out that it would've been good if I had..

Since the bass amp only runs on American voltage, I brought a big ol' voltage converter. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the adapter that converts the Aussie output jack to the American pin configuration -- which meant I couldn't use the bass. But, as it turned out, when I tried plugging in the bass to the larger guitar amp, the bass had a bad output jack anyhow -- so, I didn't play it, couldn't demo it to the kids.

I showed them a wah-wah pedal, a "heavy metal" distortion pedal, a fuzz pedal, a delay pedal, and a flanger (stereo! routed the output to both guitar amps, then had them close their eyes an listen to the sound swirl around them).

Annoyingly, one of the two child-sized electric guitars also had a bad output jack -- so when I tried to set up the two "electric guitar" stations, only one of them had a working electric guitar (i.e., going into the amp). But, the kids seemed to enjoy playing the unplugged guitar, as well.

Also had an "acoustic guitar" station, and an (unplugged, unfortunately) electric bass station. Again, the kids seemed to enjoy it, even though it was "unplugged".

According to the teacher, the girls preferred the acoustic guitar, while the boys preferred the plugged-in (and distorted) electric guitar.

All in all, it went well enough. Some of the kids were really getting into it. And my wife said that the next day a lot of the parents said their kids had talked about it a lot that evening.

Next time, I might try an auto-wah, an octave pedal, or a tremelo pedal. Also, try to present a **working** electric bass: gotta get that fixed...


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laid off

Well, that's a nuisance. Turns out that because my supervisor didn't get a grant that he thought he was going to, the project I'm working on is out of money at the end of the calendar year.

Basically, that means I'm laid off. So, I'll have to scramble to find something else.

Luckily, I can teach, and I can do research: so, double the odds, I suppose.



Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Reluctant upgrade

Good news: For my birthday, my in-laws gave me Seasons 1-3 of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER -- one of my current favorite t.v. shows. I never get around to watching it, because around here (Brisbane, Australia) it's on somewhat late at night, when I'm doing other more important things. Plus, I know I'll eventually get it on DVD... :)

The downside: the audio tracks are all in 5.1 -- which means that I can't hear the dialogue! So, I'm gonna have to get the cheapest set of 5.1 speakers I can find -- hopefully around a hundred bucks. I don't care about room-filling sound: I just wanna hear the dialogue.

IMO, new formats and technologies should be back-compatible with the old stuff: DVD-ROM drives should accept CD-Rs; USB 2.0 ports should allow USB 1.1; and etc.


(Addendum: Found an el-cheapo unit for AU$85. Yeah, that's sufficiently inexpensive.)

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Random dream

Usually I can figure out the source of my dreams: it'll be something I've been thinking about, worrying about, or deeply involved in. But sometimes, it's just plain random.

A few nights ago, I dreamed about Gizmo, a small little cutie-dog that was owned by Old Roommate, when we roomed together in the general Tacoma area. I don't remember the specifics of the dream -- just that she was cute and playful.

Sadly -- IIRC -- Gizmo died while being dog-sat while Old Roommate was on vacation.

The same night I also dreamed that my paternal grandfather was parking an old (1920s-ish?) bright yellow car in his backyard. I'd joked to him that he apparently had a need to drive a car as old as himself -- to which he laughed.

I don't remember the specifics of the car, except that it had no roof, had spoked wheels, and he was low down rather than up high. Also, the hood wasn't super-long. Kind of like the photos I've used -- except in yellow.


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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fret not

(Blog title: Howdy to Bec, from where I used to work. Wonder if she's back from maternity leave yet.)

I was just messing around with my (very inexpensive) fretless bass tonight, and I experimented with fretting the notes in between the lines that represent the fret locations: doing little riffs with quarter-tones. And I realized that those notes in between the "official" notes sound perfectly fine to me.

That explains why, when I much about with the (also very inexpensive) violin, that The Lady asks whether I can hear that I'm being "off". I can't -- because those are the notes that I'm trying to make.

That also explains why I have a hard time singing in tune without an accompanying instrument: all the sounds are legit to me.

Or, maybe I simply have no ear: that's also entirely possible.


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Friday, November 05, 2010

An apt spiff

To commemorate the end of the recent project where I was pulling a lot of late nights, I wanted to buy something symbolic.

Originally, I was going to buy Volume One of an anthology of a zombie graphic novel series called THE LIVING DEAD. The symbolism was that I felt like a zombie after so many late nights.

But instead, I mail-ordered an inexpensive fuzz pedal (pictured) that had received a rave reviews in the free weekly music magazine -- because I had felt fuzzy in the wuzzy, and because I didn't own a fuzz pedal.

But, I do now! :)

Works well, sounds great.

Bonus: it's green.


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Thursday, November 04, 2010

More wood scavenging

So, yesterday I was driving through a neighborhood near ours, and saw a construction dumpster out on the sidewalk: doing some remodeling on a house. After my errand I parked near it, got out, and asked the guys if I could take some of the wood from the dumpster. Sure; whatever.

So, a nice little haul. Four or five pieces were too long to fit in the back of the SUV without removing the childrens' booster seats (a total nuisance), so I wrapped them in a blanket and put them in the front passenger seat, with one end down in the footwell.

Most of these were 2" x 4"s; there were also a fair bit of heavy-duty plywood, about two inches thick.

Most of the longer pieces of lumber, plus the two partial sheets (chipboard, I think) will be of immediate use, as this weekend (or next) I'm hoping to finish my lumber rack.

I already carry rope, and two moving blankets, in the back of the car. Gotta start carrying work gloves, as well...


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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Good karma perhaps

So, as a spiff to myself for logging an insane amount of hours (I get paid by the hour) over this recent project report -- and perhaps as compensation for my lack of sleep -- I bought two guitar effects pedals off of Amazon. These are lower-priced models, and ones that (oddly) you can't buy locally, here in Australia.

Placed the order about two weeks ago. From two different sellers, listing through Amazon.

One pedal was about forty bucks Australian, plus ten bucks international shipping: fair enough.

The other (pictured) was fifty bucks Australian, and forty bucks international shipping. YEOW!!! I exited out of that transaction -- but then came back to it the next day, figuring that (1) I really did want that pedal, and (2) there weren't any other sellers on Amazon that were shipping internationally. So, I went with it.

Two days ago, I got an automated message from Amazon, saying that it had been a fair while since I'd placed the order, and the sell had not yet shipped it (or charged my credit card), and that I could inquire to the seller if I wanted. So I did, politely.

The seller responded quickly, and said there was a delay from the manufacturer, so there was a back-order of a few weeks: they'd send me the item when they got them back in stock. I replied saying fine, no problem, just checking in to the situation.

The seller then replied to **my** reply, saying they just received their re-stock; they'd ship it out today; and that she was **waiving my shipping fees**!!! Again, this was the pedal with the (unreasonably?) high international shipping fee.

So, the more-expensive pedal will actually end up costing me **less** than the cheaper pedal. I'm O.K. with that. :)

Dunno whether she waived the shipping just because I was nice -- or whether she would've done it regardless. Either way: I graciously accept the overture. ;)

For the record: the one that was on back-order is a heavy metal -voiced distortion pedal, with an optional sub-octave component. The other one -- which should be arriving any day now -- is an auto-wah (sometimes known as an envelope filter).


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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Not that bad

One of my blog readers kindly expressed sympathy for my turbulent week.

But really -- in the bigger scheme of things, it's been fine. Roof over my head, food on the table, happy & healthy family, etc.

Yeah, getting laid off is a bit of a nuisance -- esp. if I end up at another university (cleaning out my desk; new e-mail account and password...). But I have high hopes that something will turn up.


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Monday, November 01, 2010

A minor inconveniece

Had a good meeting at work today, with my project team.

My supervisor and the other senior person seemed impressed with the stuff I was coming up with: I'm using survey data that my predecessor had begun to work on; however, I'm re-working a lot of her stuff, and coming up with (hopefully!) better solutions and work-arounds. Which, of course, you would hope: I have a Ph.D. and have been doing these sorts of analyses for about twelve years (off and on); she had a B.A., and only a little work experience.

Unfortunately, even though my supervisor seems to be pleased with my work, he told me that at the end of the year, he'll be out of money: he ending up not getting a large grant that he'd applied for. So, I'm effectively laid off, as of the end of the calendar year -- which is too bad.

I've "tossed my bread upon the waters", however, and I've already had a few possible leads: some research work, and a possible teaching gig (for the first semester in 2011). No guarantees -- but certainly, people saying they'd keep me in mind.

To my advantage, I'm in a pretty good position: I teach (university-level courses) as well as do research -- so that doubles my range of options. And also it's apparently hard to find competent people doing my style of research (social science number-crunching, rather than interviews). And I'm also unusual in that most people with my level of experience and certification (doing this for about a decade; have a Ph.D.) usually already **have** a full-time job -- so they're not interested in part-time, short-term gigs.

Time to dust off the ol' resume...