Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Counting with Bruce Springsteen

New Year's Eve -- so something related to counting (although counting up, rather than counting down...)


If you're from the '80s, this will probably amuse you.



Ayep!


--GG

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chin na sparring

Another martial arts one. Two guys having a fun time sparring with Chin Na (the jointlock-ish aspect of kung fu.)



Interesting that my blog topics come in waves. Recently there's been a fair amount of songwriting/music, and martial arts entries -- and not a lot of woodworking ones.

--GG

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yet another nifty one

Yet another neat-o one.



Dang! **Really** need to get back into martial arts...
--GG

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Myths about martial arts

This is a good (and short!) article about seven myths about martial arts.

Good stuff.


--GG

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Monday, December 27, 2010

A good haul

Yeah, Christmas is about more than just giving and getting presents. But: it **is** nice to receive some nice stuff...

This year was pretty balanced, covering nearly all of my hobbies and interests.


GARDENING: A book on building outdoor structures.



ARCHITECTURE: See above


WOODWORKING: The above book. Also some wooden clamps. A backsaw. And a one-person crosscut saw!!!




MARTIAL ARTS: A neat-o book on Chin Na (joint locks, etc.).



MUSIC: A cable tester. Also a silver "Flying V" guitar Christmas ornament. And a guitar calendar.


(Note: Those aren't gang signs: that's a "K" to remind me that it was from the kids, and an "F" to remind me it's from my family.)


GREEN STUFF: A green froggie paperweight. And a drawing, from my wonderful daughter. :)



--GG

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Banjo mod

I'm pretty sure that -- as with guitar strings and drum heads -- you're supposed to change your banjo head (the resonating skin) every once in a while. I don't -- but you're probably supposed to.

I used to put stickers and such on my musical instruments. Not so much now (except for NilSonance stickers! and then, only tastefully). But I was abruptly inspired to draw on my banjo head -- and because the head not an integral part of the banjo, I was o.k. with it.

(Photo above is the "BEFORE" shot.)


Toyed with sketching out the proportions first. But, it's more exciting to just jump in -- which I did. Turned out pretty well -- although in hindsight it could've been an inch lower: better balance. Ah well.



Showed it to The Girl, and she wanted to have a go, as well. So, I let her draw on my snare drum. Pictured.




I like it. :)


--GG

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Interesting dream

Hm! Dreamed that it was the end of the semester at college and I hadn't done **any** work for **any** of my courses: none of the assignments, none of the readings, not even attended any lectures. Was wondering how badly that would nuke my grade-point average; considered approaching each of my profs to see if I could get one of those "no g.p.a. penalty withdrawls", where they sign something saying that I had, in effect, not done **anything** for that course, and thus to just strike it from the books.

Then I realized that perhaps I wasn't doing any of my coursework because I hated my major: maybe I should do something completely different -- major in what I **wanted** to do, rather than what I "should" do (but was completely boring to me). Decided that next semester I'd enroll in the sound design program, which is where you come up with sound effects and background noises (e.g. "interior of a busy spaceship") -- and immediately felt relieved.

(I briefly thought about music recording technology, but realized that taking that course would squeeze the personal enjoyment out of my songwriting/recording.)


PROBABLE INFLUENCES:

1) Talking with D. at church about his enrolling in a Music Technology program next semester (he'll concentrate on live sound reinforcement, but will also gain a background in audio recording).

2) Wishing I had more time to record.

3) Having taken so long to finish my dissertation.

4) Being **sooo** past the point (i.e., dosed out) of enrolling in any sort of degree program.


--GG

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Creative children

Day before yesterday, I **finally** was able to mow the lawn: a convergence of non-rain and the riding mower (lives next door at my brother-in-law's house) being non-broken.

The kids -- mostly under The Girl's guidance -- made a grass man. Like a snowman, she says, but with grass.

Pretty creative! (IMO)

I was amused.


The right-hand (in the photos) thing at looks like an antennae was actually supposed to be the other eyebrow: Boy #2 knocked it out of position shortly before the photo.



Of course, Grass Man has now been scattered to the winds.

Poor Grass Man. :(


--GG

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cooler than you

It's hip to like a band while it's still obscure; if you only like it after everyone else likes it (e.g., after their platinum record), then you're a copycat (or a poseur).

There's some debate within Coolness Committees as to whether you're allowed to still like a band after they've achieved mainstream success. Personally, I think it's fine: you were simply one of the "early adopters", and everyone else is following **your** lead.


Regardless, I'm pleased that I'm getting in on the ground floor of one of the spankingest bands in the last decade: NilSonance.

Yesterday I received some promotional stickers in the mail, and proceeded to make good use of them.


First, I declared my fan-dom by sticking one on my laptop:



Naturally, I placed one on my (green!) electric guitar (following two photos by The Girl)...


An electric guitarist: BEFORE his NilSonance sticker:



And AFTER:



I also placed a sticker on my two amps:


And:



Unfortunately, my amps are covered in a substance that resists stickers, so they started to un-stick after a few hours. So, I transferred them to a drum and an old acoustic guitar.



Thus: I am officially Hipper Than Thou. ;)


--GG

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Occasional snake

There's a local snake called a carpet snake -- a type of python -- that we **very** occasionally see around the place. I've seen one about once every two years.

My next-door brother-in-law dropped off the riding mower, as our lawn was getting pretty shaggy: it's been raining nearly every day, so hard to get a chance to mow -- but today was a nice sunny day. After parking it in our back yard, he knocked on our front door and asked if I wanted him to move a snake. I told him to just leave it be.

Using some masking tape and spray paint, I quick-like whipped up a measuring stick (dunno the technical term) like archeologists use: each stripe is 10cm; all ten stripes equal a metre.

Thus, the snake is around six feet long. Probably more -- it's hard to tell, what with its curvy-ness.

I laid the tip of the sizing stick next to the tail of the snake, as a size reference, and took some snapshots.

If you want, you can click the photos to enlarge them.




As you can see, it's kinda close to the house.

--GG

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Big dumb smile

I've been trying for about two weeks to get some guitar time, but family and work kept preventing that.

Last night, though, I finally got to plug in: practice amp, fake Telecaster, a fuzzbox, and an inexpensive chorus pedal.

I like the sound of a violin, a trumpet, a banjo, a trombone -- and one of these days I'll learn to play those things properly.

But there's nothing like the endorphin rush of cranking out some distorted power chords an electric guitar to put a big, dumb smile on my face.


--GG

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review of other Sherlock Holmes movie

At the same time my wife rented Scott Pilgrim, she also rented the recent version of Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey, Jr.

My wife watches a lot of BBC mysteries; I watch a few, just through association with her. And we came to the same assessment:

Eh. Not horrible, not great. Middling.


--GG

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs the World

On July 26 of this year, I posted a blog entry about how excited I was for the movie Scott Pilgrim versus the World. (Please don't suck, please don't suck...) Well, due to work and family commitments, I ended up not seeing it in the theatres. And now it's December.

So, then I waited eagerly for the DVD release, so I could rent it. It was supposed to come out on December 16th, which is a Wednesday; however, the "cheap days" are Tuesdays. So, I had a moral dilemma as to whether to grab it immediately when it came out, and pay the five bucks or whatever (I have no idea what the cost is, it's been so long since I've rented a DVD on a non-Tuesday) -- or wait an extra six days until the following Tuesday.

As luck would have it, though, my wife was browsing the video rental shop with the kids, saw it, and picked it up for me -- yesterday, **Tuesday**. Excellent: the best of both worlds.


Sat down and watched it. I had hopes.

It did not disappoint.


I had been a little concerned, as it had received mixed reviews. The negative reviews that I'd read had complained that there was no plot, and that it would only appeal to hard core video game players.

Rubbish on both parts. I was amused and engaged the whole time, laughed several times, and when I re-watched it to pick up the parts that I missed (it was on DVD, and I kept getting distracted by kid-wrangling), I ended up just watching it straight through again, rather than fast-forwarding through the parts I'd already seen: that's a good sign.

For me, it was an intersection of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon, and the1960s Batman t.v. show. It wore its comic book and video game influences proudly, and did not take itself too seriously.


An observation: the female lead had a husky, lower voice (for a female), and the guy had a thin, higher voice (kinda David Spade-ish). The result is that the female had a lower voice than the male. Huh.


In sum: I'm not sure if I can honestly say that I **loved** it: my hyperbole is mellowing with age. But certainly I was giddy through much of it, and babbled about it to my wife afterwards -- and that's a good indicator that I enjoyed it.


--GG

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Words from The Girl

A few days ago, The Girl (6 y.o.) and I were driving around, running errands. And she asked me how old she had to be before she could be in a band. Did my heart good.

I asked her why she wanted to be in a band; she said it was because I had been in one. Fair enough.

I told her "about twelve years old". Although that was a pretty arbitrary figure.


--GG

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Technology signs

A year ago -- maybe two -- I tried to find out what the American Sign Language signs were for "hard drive". It was for a Weird Al-ish music video idea I had: a cover of NIN's "Head Like a Hole", but about technology. When I was working out the different shots in my mind, a lot of it involved me signing (badly!) to the camera.

When I did the search, a year or two ago, I couldn't find anything. Maybe I just chose better search terms this time (in Google, "ASL technology signs"), but I found something right off the bat: a whole web page on signs for technology.

The signs for "hard drive" and "CD" were pretty boring: "H, D" and "C, D". And "database" is "D, B". Ah.

But the sign for "internet" was pretty neat-o.

That's as far as I got: there's a 3 x 18 array of links to click for the video clips, and I didn't want to invoke my latent OCD-ness.


--GG

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

My little adventure

The Lady is back from her trip -- but while she was gone, I had a little adventure.

Even though I've lived here more than six years, I still don't know most of Brisbane very well: I tend to go straight to work and back. But, there's a vintage guitar and amp shop near the downtown area that I've been meaning to check out for about a year. It's called Tym's Guitars, and I've been hearing about it through the free weekly local music rag.

Usually The Lady is the one to take B2 to his "deaf kid" speech therapy classes, but since she was away, I did it. Afterwards, since we were already two-thirds of the way to downtown, I spontaneously decided to go check out Tym's Guitars. I looked up the address in the Refedex, and we were off!

I managed to get there fairly directly, with only a few wrong turns. The most difficult part was when I was within a few blocks, missed a turnoff, and then got blocked from doubling back by a series of one-way and "no turn allowed" streets. Gah!

Once I found it, I couldn't find anywhere to park -- being quasi-downtown. So I stashed the car in the parking lot of a sound and light rental place, chatted with the sales clerk and grabbed a catalog -- thereby making me a "customer" (i.e., "customer parking only"!) -- and then went across the street to Tym's guitars.

With two two-year-old boys with me. ;)

Because of the boys, I wasn't able to have a **good** look -- but it was indeed pretty neat-o: lots of vintage amps, guitars, and effects pedals. Unfortunately, none of them appeared to be within my "bottom feeder" price range. One of these days, though, I'll actually spring for a **good** guitar amp (AU$1,500-ish?) -- in which case, I'll probably come here.

And because they don't have wide range of prices -- and because parking's a nuisance -- I don't see myself visiting on a regular basis. So, not nearly as good at the Trading Musician, in Seattle.


But: a nice little adventure. And I even found my way home! :)


--GG

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Aerosol cleverness

Pretty clever!

Repairing a wheel using gas and a lighter from MechanicsHubdotCom on Vimeo.



(Due credit: Found it here.)


--GG

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Cooked fine

So, The Lady is away at a conference, so it's just me and the kids. Except for ramen and sandwiches, I don't cook. But, we had some chicken defrosting, which The Lady didn't have a chance to cook before flying out. So, it was up to me.

I'm usually afraid to cook meat -- esp. chicken. With veggies, if you undercook them, it's no big deal -- just a little raw, crunchy, and/or starchy. But with meat, you can actually get sick.

But, I also hate to waste food: if I didn't cook the chicken, it would have to go to the dog (note: boneless).

So, I cubed it (cooks faster), and picked some of our recently-planted herbs. I thought the herbs would be too strong, but they cooked right down -- I'll have to add more next time.

Cut the larger chunks in half: no pink. OK.

The kids each tried a piece, and each spit it out. Fine. So, I ate it all myself. Surprisingly, it was pretty good. Tasted like fried chicken, with a touch of herbs. Not surprisingly.


--GG

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Record rains

November apparently had record-breaking rainfalls, and December's doing pretty well, too.

Here's a snapshot of our driveway. Looks like we'll be needing some gravel.

It's an interesting lesson in erosion: a slight hollow in the ground; fills with water when it rains; drive through it, mud sticks to tires and comes off in the streets; hole gets deeper, fills with even more water next time; repeat.


--GG

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Interesting instruments

A continuation from yesterday's post.

As mentioned, I'd checked out a few books from the library on various families of musical instruments. Then YouTubed the ones that I didn't know for sure what they sounded like.

Found most of these by accident, while searching for other instruments.


A contrabass saxophone! ("Tuned one octave below the baritone sax", the guy says.)




Found this also by accident: a "hang drum". I haven't Googled for more information, but it looks like an inverted steel drum.




This one looks cool -- but, as the guy demonstrates, it would be a little annoying the play (due to the exterior braces).





Finally, the Alphorn (skip ahead to about 1:12):




I like the alphorn. But, unless it disassembles, it'd be the dickens to store...


--GG

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Nice sound

Checked out a few books from the library on various families of musical instruments. Then YouTubed the ones that I didn't know for sure what they sounded like.

The cor anglis has a **really** good sound. (Also known as an "English horn" -- although they're neither English, nor a horn.) Now **that** would be a good instrument to play...




Unfortunately, they appear to cost around AU$7,000 to AU$12,000. Yow. **Not** something you'd just dabble about with.


--GG

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Herby

I like herbs, I've decided. Not for cooking -- although that's a good idea, too.

Mostly, though, I like walking past them, stopping, and rubbing their leaves while smelling them. Kinda like a real-life Scratch 'N' Sniff experience.

We had a few in Seattle, but we had to leave them behind: trying to import plants is a pain. So, even though we've lived here for about six years, we didn't have any herbs.


But, about two weeks ago our local Aldi store had a few different types of potted herbs (in the teeny little "starter pots") for $2.50 each, so we picked up a few (I think three). Then the next day, while at Ikea, we picked up another flavor. I planted them in larger pots (I've discovered that pots need to have a certain minimum volume, or else they dry out too easily), after dividing the little bunches to "fluff them out" a bit.

The next week, I noticed that Aldi had discounted the herbs from $2.50 to $1.50. So I bought two more flavors. And a few days later, I bought one more flavor again.

In the photo, I've grouped the various flavors together. I think there's a total of nine edible types of herbs -- plus lavender, which probably isn't edible and which we already had, but needed re-potting.


It's nearby the workshop/storage shed: every time I go out there, I give a few of them a sniff.


--GG

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Two minor musics

Two minor musical items of note.

First, I managed to actually get some drum time in -- **and** some electric bass time. Good for the soul.

Second, while my bass gear was set up, all the kids took a turn. I'm trying not to **pressure** them to do music -- but, if there's any sort of natural inclination, it will certainly fall on fertile soil.


Video clips below. (Sorry -- a little dark: shot in low-light conditions. Just turn up your screen brightness a bit.)

Boy #1:
video


Boy #2:
video


They **seem** intrigued, at least.


--GG

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

I saw

My de facto hobby still appears to be sawing logs in half, the long way, by hand. Here's my latest (see photo). It's resting in a customize sawhorse I built myself: kind of a modified sawbuck.

When you saw them down the middle -- if you've done it right, and had a bit of luck -- it'll be a pleasing pattern and color.

I get the logs from work (the groundskeepers have given me standing permission to salvage stuff from their pile o' prunings), and from neighbors (after windstorms).

This one will probably end up as a waist-high bookshelf -- in a few years, once the wood has properly seasoned (i.e., dried to a stable moisture content).


--GG

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A long and winding road

And thus brings to a close a circuitous path, which came to naught...

As part of my reward to myself for working a zillion hours per week (and bringing large amounts of cash into the family coffers), I decided to spiff myself by buying an effects pedal -- something I hadn't done in a while.

After some consideration, I'd decided on the Danelectro "Black Licorice", from their "mini" series. Basically, an octave-distortion pedal. Oddly, it wasn't available at any of the local music stores that I'd looked at online, so I decided to buy it off Amazon and have it sent to the U.S.

Found a few sellers within Amazon -- but only one of them actually shipped internationally. I placed my order. The shipping cost was nearly as much as the pedal (and pricier than other sellers that shipped internationally, for other pedals). But, 'twas the only one that shipped that specific pedal, so I was kinda stuck.

A few days later, got a message saying that there was a back-order. And a few days after that, got a message saying it was **still** on backorder -- but they'd waive the shipping. Sure!

Then, while browsing my local pawn shop, saw it for a similar price -- but (obviously!) no shipping! But, didn't think I could cancel my order, so I just shrugged.

Then, got an e-mail saying it was further delayed, but I'd get some discount on my future purchase with them.

And finally, they cancelled my transaction, saying they didn't know **when** it would be in stock. So, I nipped down to the pawn shop and bought it.


But wait! Took it home, tried it out -- and discovered that the input jack was gimpy: it worked fine if you pulled upwards slightly on the guitar cable -- but then would cut out if you pushed down. (I'm guessing the previous owner had accidentally stepped on the cable...)

Took it back to the pawn shop. They took it t the back room, said that they'd put a new battery in it and now it was working. I pointed out that the battery wasn't the problem, but the guy asked me to take it home and see. Fair enough.

Took it home. Nope -- not the problem. Brought it back.

This time, the guy said he'd send it out for repairs, would probably be a week. A week later, got a phone call saying that it would cost more to fix it than it was worth, so they'd just refund me the money.

I went in, and got my refund. Bid on a pair of other pedals on eBay (here in Australia), and got them (both within the same auction) for the same price as the pawn shop pedal.


So, hopefully they'll show up in a day or so -- and that'll be the end of the story. :)


--GG

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