Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Maybe a little TOO cheap

Sorry: this one's for the guitarists out there. I'm kinda tired, and thus not going to interpret the technical stuff.

About a half year ago, I bought a quasi-Strat (used, pawn shop, probably around a hundred bucks). Finally got around to changing the strings and setting it up a bit. Was adjusting the intonation last night, and bottomed out on the adjustable bridge: i.e., couldn't bring the saddles any closer to the tail end of the guitar. Turns out that the bridge was installed about 1/4" of an inch too close to the neck: that is, the 12th fret is only vaguely near the halfway point.

Woulda thought that correct bridge placement would be a basic requirement of guitar building -- even for el-cheapo guitars.

I'll eventually move the bridge -- but it'll involve filling in the current hold with a correct-sized block of wood, and moving the whole thing back a bit (or, buying a "fixed" bridge -- I've already jammed a block of wood next to the current "whammy" undercarriage, thus neutralizing it).

Not difficult -- but it puts it onto the "projects" list, rather than the quick and easy "intonate guitar" entry on my mental "To Do" list.

Ah well: at least the electronics work.


Labels: ,

Monday, June 27, 2011

Unintentionally amusing

I came across some criminal offense categories at work. Two of them struck me as amusing (which may be horrible of me; not sure).

"ROBBERY WHILE PRETENDING TO BE ARMED IN COMPANY" -- There's basic "robbery", but if you do it "in company" (i.e., with other people), "while armed", or while "pretending to be armed", those are more serious than the baseline offense. But, "while pretending to be armed, in company" made me imagine a mime, holding an imaginary gun, with imaginary accomplices.

"ROBBERY WITH ACTUAL VIOLENCE" -- Robbery is the use of force, or threat of force, to gain material goods. Thus, even though the person usually gains money, it's classified as a violent crime, not a property crime. So, a robbery event where the person actually uses violence is more serious than simply threatening violence. But the phrasing still amused me: I imagined Steve Martin's voice, saying, "they used ACTUAL violence!"

So: amusing -- to me. Maybe it's funnier if you actually live inside my head.


Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 26, 2011

If I won the lottery

Every once in a while I daydream about how my life would be different if I won the lottery. My problem -- here in ''real life'' -- is that my interests are too diffuse. I'm interested in lots of stuff -- but not obsessed with any one thing. So, not much within any one realm gets done.

The other impediment is that I need to work for a living. So all the "home maintenance" stuff ends up taking up my free time. For example: this weekend, and the next few weekends, I'm devoting a few hours per day to digging a trench to lay down some drainage pipe -- so that my workshop can get its final certification/inspection.

So: here's what I'd do with myself if I won the lottery (clustered by topic, rather than ranked by order)...

-Krav Maga classes
-Wing Chun classes
-Escrima/Arnis/Kali classes
-Japanese Ju-Jitsu classes
-Brazillian Ju-Jitsu classes
-Aikido classes
-Hapkido classes
-Black Crane kung fu classes

-Tap dancing classes

-Martial arts practice
-Learn to run faster
-Practice doing a one-armed chin-up
-Learn the rudiments of rock climbing, including increasing my grip strength
-Learn to swim decently
-Get the equivalent of life guard certification (regardless of whether I actually take the certification)

-Buy an English horn
-Practice the English horn
-Buy "great pipes" bagpipes
-Practice the pipes
-Play the guitar and electric bass more
-Learn the clarinet
-Actually practice the trumpet
-Actually practice the trombone
-Set up my recording gear
-Buy a tube amp (don't know which; would try out a few)
-Buy a decent USB or Firewire recording interface
-Buy actual monitors
-Buy a ribbon mic
-Record my songs
-Put some of my music on the web
-Buy that one mini-synth that I have as a "desktop" on my computer at work -- the vocoder one

-Do woodworking
-Buy a wood-turning lathe
-Buy a fairly large bandsaw
-Build a "wood milling" shed for the bandsaw

-Do weird electronics to build music gizmos

-Build a wind-driven bassy string drone device for the back yard

-Build an electric guitar from scratch, with hand-wound pickups and oddball electronics

-Build a climbing structure/clubhouse for the kids

-Clear out the weeds and brambles from our yard

-Build a potting shed

-Go through our boxes: sort, discard, tidy, put away

-Write a few genius scholarly articles, including publishing my Master's thesis

-Write a few children's books (K thru 3rd grade, probably)

-Maybe keep working (human contact!), or maybe not; but if I did, only about two days a week

-Short-term, have the kids home with me instead of putting them in daycare

-Visit friends and family in the U.S. more often

-Enter my mountains of thoughts and ideas on scraps of paper into the computer, and organize them

-Shoot and edit my zombie/martial arts film short

-Shoot and edit my music video ideas


-I didn't put "spend more time with the family" on there, as I already do a pretty good job of that. It's the **other** stuff I don't do.

-Unlike what a lot of people would do with their lottery winnings, I don't have "travel, see the world", "buy a fancy car", or "buy a bigger house". (Oh! Should pay off the mortgage, though.)

-The stuff I'd spend money on are (1) classes, to learn how to do things, and (2) tools and equipment, to help me better accomplish tasks.


Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One of the saddest

Follow up to my post from about two days ago: this is one of the saddest episodes from the short-lived t.v. series Cupid.

Still totally worth a watch, though.

And again: "yay!" to YouTube. Maybe these will get enough web hits that the studios will finally release the series (sadly, only one season...) to DVD. The studios get some money; fans get decent screen resolution; everybody wins.


Labels: ,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Review of recent Karate Kid movie

So, last night I managed to see the 2010 remake the The Karate Kid.

A bit of a misnomer, as there's only kung fu, not karate. But understandable, as with a more correct name they couldn't tap into the franchise.

The movie recycles -- presumably intentionally -- about 90% of the plot, and many key lines of dialog, from the original Karate Kid movie. Even (paraphrased) "Sweep the leg, Johnny" -- but in Chinese.

Uses "hang the jacket on the spike" (over and over and over) instead of "wax on, wax off". Not as plausible (IMO) a training technique as the original -- but good job trying something different.

Unlike the original, which has realistic martial arts moves, this version -- esp. in the tournament -- clearly used "wire work" for gravity-defying feats of acrobatics. Annoyed me. Also: no Wing Chun stylists, which was odd.

Jackie Chan played the "Mr. Miyagi"-ish role well. And the kid was reasonably believeable, too (and **insane** flexibility!).

The pacing was a little slow.

Effective musical score: I teared up at all the right places, despite my cynicism.

I have no intention of buying this DVD, or even renting it again. I'd say to rent it if you're **totally** out of rental options, or if you **really** like martial arts things, or if you are interested in comparing it to the original (and, superior) Karate Kid movie.

Not horrible -- just... fine.


Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The best of the best

This is possibly my favorite episodes of one of my all-time favorite t.v. shows: "The Linguist" (yay, YouTube!), from the t.v. show Cupid.

Some of my formerly favorite t.v. shows (e.g., The Greatest American Hero) haven't aged well -- or maybe **I** haven't aged well. But Cupid still tickles me to death.

This was episode two of a really promising t.v. series that, sadly, only lasted one season -- possibly because its fast-paced, witty dialogue was not accompanied by a laugh track. Even sadder, it's not available on DVD. I'm waiting for Jeremy Piven to get **super** famous, so that the t.v. studios drag from the vaults everything he's ever been in and dump it all onto DVD.

Wikipedia article on Cupid (t.v. show, 1998) here.


Labels: , ,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Interesting websites on electric guitar pickups

Interesting (to me) websites on guitar pickups.

The first one -- -- methodically compares a wide range of guitar pickups, and provides a frequency response curve. Also has a nice little Java-based simulation of what happens when you tweak the capacitance and the potentiometer resistance. Neat-o!

The second site -- -- talks more about the theory, and at the bottom of the page gives the four general tonal qualities of pickups with the strong/weak magnet, many/few wrappings of the wire. Makes me want to start experimenting with winding my own pickups...

The third site -- -- clarifies what "handwound" pickups are, and other good information. In some of the sections I wonder if the writer accidentally says the opposite of what she or he means sometimes (e.g. "is not" rather than "is", "stronger" rather than "weaker"). But I could be wrong.

Regardless: good stuff!


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Middle age

I'm 42: I expect to "approach" middle age until I abruptly realize that I'm actually "old"...

I also notice that I'm getting sick a little more often than I used to. Could be age: could also be a lack of exercise, more stress at work -- or, just random variation.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

FINALLY got the bench

Well! After many false warnings about moving a workbench two whole blocks, from my wife's uncle's place to mine (I've uncovered an e-mail from me to him (11/29/09), anticipating "three to four weeks"!) I **finally** did it!

Did it this recent Sunday, June 12th, after church -- with the help of my next-door brother-in-law, the scrap metal hoarder (in symbiotic contrast to my wood hoarding).

According to my wife's uncle (who apprenticed as a carpenter in his youth [he's now in his 70s], but worked most of his life as a construction supervisor) :

The bench was under the grandparents house at Carl St Thompson Estate (Buranda). Great-Grandpa G. used it for general cabinet/carpentry work. He probably made the cedar sideboard we have here in our dining room on it.

When he died my Dad moved some of his stuff down here on the farm at Gumdale into one of the unused chicken houses. This was c. 1947/8.

I rescued it from the termites c. 1964.

I put a MDF board top on it around 1970 and previously used it to make
all of the doors and windows on our house on it. Also our four poster bed. Plus lotsa other stuff I forget.

SO you had better to make GOOD use of it. Maybe keep warm in winter.
Should burn well!!!!

So, it's somewhere around 100-120 years old -- **and** "family" (her uncle's paternal grandfather -- so, my wife's great-grandfather's). That's WAY cool!!! :)

Although I'm not a blood relative, my wife's uncle knows that I'm the most into woodworking than anyone else of my generation (i.e., his daughter or her partner; my wife; her sibs or their partners). So, a few years after I moved to Australia, he offered it to me: I just needed a good place to put it. My woodshop was built a year or two ago: then it was just a matter of lining up a weekend where I was free, my brother-in-law was free, the uncle was free, **and** it wasn't raining. And, **finally**...!!!

The uncle restores old cars -- so for him, this was just one of three large, flat surfaces to place things "in progress". After the brother-in-law and I moved this workbench out of the way, we replaced it with spare workbench that had been under the eaves behind the house for a decade or so. Then we balanced the workbench on a dolly and walked down the street (literally -- luckily, no traffic!), across my front yard, and then carried it from my carport to my workshop. A little heavy -- but not horrible.

Some snapshots, followed by relevant commentary, are below. As typical, click on the photo to enlarge it.

Here's a general shot of the workbench, including a "sleeve" (don't know the correct term) for the sliding arm(?) of the leg vice. (Leg vice! Neat-o!)

(Upon reflection: technically, I don't think it's a leg vice, as it's not mounted into the leg, and doesn't hold the workpiece against the leg. Just FYI.)

Note that my workshop area is fairly long and narrow. That's fine with me.

A lot of leg vices use a removable pin the the bottom sliding bar to keep it open: the bottom gap is supposed to be about the same width as the object being held in the top. Instead of a pin, I have three blocks of wood of differing thicknesses that I mix and match to create the right gap.

Check out the span of the leg vice! 9.25" (24cm). Yowza! That's **huge**!!!

One quirk of the workbench is that the uncle actually worked at the "back" of the workbench. One implication is that there's a "mystery hole" near the back (his "front"). I'll have to ask him what it's for.

Another implication of the front-versus-back conversion is that the MDF sheeting that he added is tidier at **his** front (which was the original "back"). So, when I'm using it in the original orientation (in order to use the vice), the added sheeting doesn't quite line up. Still functional, though.

Here's a closer shot of the left-hand end. You can see the MDF top, with the original top underneath, with the ragged ends. Sometime here I'll take off the MDF top, and probably add two to four inches of additional wood on top. That might involve taking an inch or two off the legs -- but that's o.k., as the ends of the legs (not shown) are a little ragged.

Note also that there's a very thin sheet of material over the original wooden apron (the vertical wood), which faces the vice. At some point, I'll remove that as well. I'll probably replace it with some half-inch planks of wood.

A closer view of the raggedy ends of the original top.

Here's a shot of the underneath the workbench -- just to give you a sense of the structure. The bottom-most horizontal, closest to the viewer, is a drawer runner: you can see its partner farther back in the picture. At some point I'll probably add a drawer there.

Here you can see the "borer" holes. The insects are supposedly long gone -- but I'll putty them up, just the same. If no new holes appear, then good. If new holes appear: bad.

Here's the tip of my thumb indicating the overhang of the MDF top over the vice area. Ideally, the benchtop is flush with the apron (the side of the workbench), so that you can clamp things between the vice face and the apron. The overhang messes this up. (Makes sense, though: the uncle used the other side of the workbench -- and didn't use this vice.)

Here's the early stages of my sawing away the overhang. Left an ugly edge -- but I didn't want to take the time to make it pretty. Besides, the whole MDF top will get removed, eventually.

Within about a half hour of putting the workbench in position, I was already using it! I'm in the process of puttying up the decorative grooves in a pair of old speaker boxes, prior to painting them with glow-in-the-dark paint. **Much** nicer to have a waist-high work surface, rather than working with them on the floor! And, much safer than doing things on the kitchen counter (and hoping to heck I don't screw up and damage the countertop!).

The workbench is a work in progress, to be sure. But, I'm honoured to have it.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Good ship

A photo of my 6 y.o. daughter's drawing, from May 10th.

I really liked her representation of ocean waves.


Labels: ,

Sunday, June 05, 2011

At the expo

A few weekends ago, I helped to staff my organization's booth at a local criminal justice expo. Here I am earnestly explaining something to a member of the public.

Although there were five of us there from my job, I think I'm the only one that had photos taken. The photographer took two pictures. One or the other will be in our next newsletter.

Fame! :)



Thursday, June 02, 2011

All hopped up

On Monday, I did a guest (university) lecture for my wife's co-worker's class. It went darned well: I had fun, the students seemed interested (and I got several laughs), and I managed to insert to Johnny Mnemonic references and a Monty Python - Holy Grail reference.

I got back to work around noon, and was so hopped up that my supervisor (jokingly?) asked if I was on speed.

Nah. I just enjoy teaching.

I guess I miss teaching. And unlike my wife, I actually enjoy writing lectures (she just puts up with it). Maybe some day I'll go back and do the professor thing.

But - being a govt. guy is good, too. I work less hours than my wife (who is a professor), but for the same pay.


Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Not address your parents by their first name

My daughter is six years old, which seems to be the age for trying on various behaviors. A few weeks ago she tried -- semi-jokingly -- to address me by my first name.

I explained to her that calling me "Dad" is a privilge, and she should treasure it: Only three people in this world get to call me 'Dad' -- and you're one of them.

Seemed to work.


Labels: ,