Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Through Korea

On the road, visiting friends and family in the U.S. (At least, the ones in the Seattle area.) Haven't been back since three Christmasses ago -- when snow messed up our travel plans and prevented us from visiting a few people on our list.

This time I'm traveling solo (wife and kids are still in Brisbane), which means I can visit more people without boring the kids to pieces.

Sadly, I only have a limited time in the U.S. -- so I won't be able to see everyone that I'd like to.

The shorted flight was from Brisbane to Seoul (Korea) to Seattle (thx to Mom and Dad for paying for the ticket!). Had a 12 hour layover, so the airline was kind enough to give me a voucher for a free hotel room. I had planned to be ambitious and spend the time learning how to use looping software (freeware) that I had installed on my laptop but not yet had a chance to use.

Had the (free!) breakfast, first, while reading. Then went up to my room. Sat down in the comfy chair, just to try it out -- and woke up a few hours later. Decided that I must be tired, shrugged, and climbed in to the bed. So, no looping software.

Above is the Christmas tree they had in the hotel lobby. Note the scale of it, as indicated by the fella in the lower right of the photo.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Congrats on Guitar Cousin's album

Guitar Cousin has released an album! He wrote and arranged the songs, did all the instrumentation and vocals, laid down the tracks and mixed it, and did all the graphics and layout. I think the only thing that he outsourced is the "mastering" process (and, the actual physical printing of the CD sleeve and the CD).

This is actually a belated announcement, as he released it around November 17th, 2011.

I appreciate that he included the lyrics in the CD sleeve: not everyone does that.

It's a long slog to create a CD. Particularly in the "recorded" arts (audio recording, film making -- and **especially** animation) -- the ratio between time invested and a final product is just wretched. For me, it takes about 8 hrs. for a three minute rock song -- so about a 160-to-1 ratio. Urgh.

Anyhow: tastes vary, but I think it's a good album. Depending on the song, it reminds me of bits of Rush, Evanescence, goth music. Also Metallica and Maiden influneces (not surprising, given his musical background).

So: band name is NilSonance, and it's available at his website -- -- as well as Amazon and iTunes and CD Baby.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I thought this cartoon was pretty good.


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Impressive reverse rap


Though, a minor cheat: easier to accomplish this when you're reversing the order of phrases, compared to reversing the order of each word.

But, still -- impressive.


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Monday, December 26, 2011

Rap on how to solve a Rubiks cube

Yow! This is impressive on several levels.


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Two from chap hop

So, I was doing a Wikipedia search on "steampunk -- musicians" (or something similar), and happened upon a musical genre called "chap hop".

Basically, rapping about things that are English -- tea and cricket and such.

The two best-known proponents, apparently:

  • Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer

  • Professor Elemental

Good stuff! :)


ADDED: For an American who lived near the border of Canada, and now lives in Australia -- the following is **golden**.

I'm gonna have to check out this ''Baba'' guy.


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Making a song from random sounds

Impressive! And, catchy.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Bad day into good day

Yesterday started with me thinking it was going to be a not-good day. Had a bunch of things I needed to get done -- but instead, the day started with a 45 minute project meeting. Necessary for the project that's due at the end of next week -- but not directly productive relative to my tasks. Had some graphs and re-analyses that I needed to get done by 2pm.

Then, spent the next hour and a half doing some diagnostic things. Discovered that I had even **more** graphs to re-do. Thought I might have to (literally) stay until 10pm to get everything done in time for tomorrow --maybe just sleep over at the office.

Trying not to freak out, I discussed things with the project supervisor. She decided that given the deadline, we could eliminate a bunch of the graphs. For another series of graphs, rather than continuing re-doing them, I could just roll back to an earlier version (which meant that part of yesterday had been a waste of time -- but it still gave me a net savings).

So! Rather than having to work waaaaay late, I finished my "due around 2pm" task at 2:09pm. Close enough.

Did some other things towards the project, and managed to skip out fifteen minutes earlier than usual (i.e. leaving "on time" rather than staying late by a half hour). So, a good day. :)



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alien haircut

In the comments from my "haircut" blog entry a few days ago, Giovanni asked about my shaving my eyebrows.

I think I'd look like an alien with no hair **and** no eyebrows.

Below is a quick mock-up of what I'd look like.



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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Restoration of mojo

A few years ago I bought a green Stratocaster-shaped electric guitar with dual humbuckers. I bought it, used, at a pawn shop. Usually I try out a musical instrument before buying it -- but this one was (if I recall) AU$115 (that's a good price), and was structurally sound -- so I figured that even if the electronics needed repair, the inexpensive price was worth the labor.

Well, I got it home, and I couldn't get my guitar cable into the hole. Popped off the access plate in the back, and discovered that someone had jammed black rubber into the hole. Or at least some sort of black hard substance -- maybe construction adhesive? Regardless, I'd have to replace the input jack before I could use it.

Again, this was a few years back.

On July 23rd of this year, I bought a replacement input jack for my green electric guitar.

And then it took until December 6th or so for me to actually make the repair.

Once I made the repair, I discovered that the pickup selector was wonky. Or maybe it was one of the pickups. Either way, the three positions did this: bridge pickup only; bridge pickup only (instead of both pickups); neck pickup, but about 10% of the volume of the bridge pickup.

I had another look at the electronics, but it's hard to get around in there (everything's crammed in). And the pickup selector switch is installed in such a way that it's gonna be **really** hard to remove.

So, I've decided to just leave it. I did a comparison with my fake Telecaster, and despite the fake Tele having single-coils, the green guitar's bridge humbuckers sound fuller, yet brighter than the Tele. Although it could because of the fresh strings on the green guitar.

Regardless, after fixing the input jack I rocked out for the next three evenings in a row with the green guitar. After Gypsy, my very first electric guitar, was lost in a burglary in 2004, I've not felt "the mojo" with another guitar: other guitars have been **functional** -- but didn't have the "pizang".

This one does. :)


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Geek fun

I've had this cable tester for about a year, but a few days ago (the 10th) was the first time I've actually used it.

**Very** handy! Tested a few microphone cables, plus a guitar cable that has been giving me some trouble. The photo shows a red guitar cable being tested.

Runs off a 9V battery. Very easy to use: just plug in a cable to the left side, and the right side of the box. Then turn the knob to test the various connections. If it works correctly, the correct LEDs light up.

Flexible, too: the two ends of the cables don't have to be in the same format. This means that you can test ''adaptor'' cables if you like. And it takes many different formats: the black lines indicate all of the input jacks available, each in a different format.


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

My hair again

So, last Sunday night I was doing the ol' ''home haircut'' routine again.

Pretty straightforward:

  • Pull up a stool in the bathroom
  • Put the spacers on the electric clippers
  • Have my 7 year-old daughter shave everything to a uniform length
  • Have someone else shave the back of my neck (with the spacers removed)
  • And, there ya go.

Above is what I ''usually'' look like, as of late.

And below is what my new haircut **would** have looked like -- if everything had gone according to plan.

But, things don't always go according to plan...

As you can see, even with several attempts, the ''straight, horizontal line'' is not being achieved. And now we're getting into ''bowl cut'' territory.

So: it all had to come off! Which is fine -- for a while now, every time I took the clippers to my head I'd wondered what it'd be like to go full gonzo and shave it all off. And now I'd get to find out.

Of course, if I was going totally bald, I'd have to loose the beard and moustache.

And, I took a pit stop along the way.

So, this is what I looked like last Sunday.

A bit like a rock star, actually. I don't think I have the right facial features to be a ''tough guy''. Maybe if I scowled a bit more.

It's been a week, now, and I like it! It's summertime now, and I feel even the slightest breeze on my scalp; nice.

Also, my hair has started to grow out, so instead of being bristly, it's softened -- like patting a labrador.

And every time I shave my face, there's more of a distinction between my clean-shaven face and my vaguely-existing scalp-hair. So it looks more like a ''haircut'', rather than just being bald.

Interesting stuff.


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Strength displacement

A few days before the 26th of November, my wife's clothes bar in our walk-in closet fell down.

It had collapsed once before, maybe half a year or a year ago, when some of the screw heads pulled through the holes in the inexpensive brackets that hold up the clothes bar.

What I did at that point was place a washer between the screw heads and the bracket, to prevent them from pulling through in the future. I did this for the bracket that failed, as well as the other three (preventatively).

This time around, it seems that the structural failure was not due to the screws. Rather, the entire chunk of wood had pulled loose from the underside of the closet shelf!

In this picture, you can see the piece of wood that pulled loose. Note that the bracket is still firmly attached!

It turns out that the strips of wood were held on by a single line of glue, plus two small nails driven in at a slight angle. Wow! No wonder they failed!

This time, I repaired and reinforced it by scraping off the old glue, re-gluing it with a full smear of glue (rather than a single narrow line), and using two bolts (with washers!) though the shelf.

We'll see what fails next...


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Friday, December 09, 2011

Woodworking in the kitchen

About a week ago The Lady was off at a conference for a few days. Normally, I can sneak off to my workshop after the kids are asleep, in order to log some time on woodworking projects. However, as the only adult in the house, I couldn't really do this.

So, in order to make some progress on a woodworking project, I moved my operations indoors. The kitchen, I reasoned, has hard floors that are sweep-able, and lots of counter space.

But I was careful to lay some towels over the counter, so I didn't scratch things.

The photo above shows my work in progress. Look! it's an oven!!! Yep, I'm in the kitchen. A pile of weatherbeaten wood on the floor in front of the oven, as well as in the toekick area to the left. (I'm leaving the wood grey and weatherbeaten: I'm going for a ''rustic'' look.)

The core of my operations were my little sawbench. A sawbench is basically just a sawhorse that's optimized in size and shape for more ergonomic sawing of boards using a handsaw: it's short enough that you can put your knee on it, thus securing the wood to be sawn.

My sawbench, however, has become a mini-workbench.

(Side note: Most sawbenches I've seen have splayed legs, which stick out beyond the work surface of the sawbench. See the fairly typical ''Google image search'' hit, below -- although there **are** a few with vertical legs. I designed my sawbench to have vertical legs, so that when I'm ripping lumber I don't accidentally cut into the legs.)

A good workbench (for hand tool woodworking, at least) is a clamping platform with enough mass to stay put. (I should possibly be citing Chris Schwarz' Workbench book here...) However, my sawbench is pretty darned light: I can pick it up with one hand.

I compensate for its lack of mass in two ways. First, I've installed a hook on the tail end, where I hang sandbags (rinsed-out juice jugs, filled with sand). This keeps the end from kicking up when I handplane.

The other thing I do is stick my right foot against the nearest leg of the sawbench. This keeps the sawbench from sliding forward when the wood resists the handplane. Standing this way is a little awkward, but not terrible. And, it works.

If standing like that became too awkward, I'd just lay a piece of wood on the floor, against the base of the kitchen cabinets, and brace the front legs of the sawhorse against the wood.

As far as its suitability for clamping: well, my sawbench is basically an elongated cube, and it's an open frame. So I can clamp things horizontally, vertically -- whatever.

For handplaning, and sharpening with a whetstone, I clamp a scrap of wood to the non-weighted end. This serves as a planing stop: you can see it sticking up vertically just a little bit past the work surface.

Then, to handplane a piece of wood, I just butt it up against the planing stop. In the below photo I've placed my sharpening stone in a similar position.

And, the photo below shows how I position my workpiece when I need to plane the edge. I've clamped a caul (is that the term? a cleat? a supporting length of board) across the two near legs of the sawbench. This supports the weight of the wood that I'm handplaning. Other clamps hold the wood in place horizontally.

This piece of wood, eventually, will become part of a rustic wooden box.

And: note that the right-hand bar clamp is actually clamped **between** the slats on the top of the sawhorse? In other words, not having a continuous top ''isn't a bug -- it's a feature!''

In instances where I need a solid top, I just throw a piece of plywood across the top.

Dimensions? Well, you can get a sense of scale relative to the clamps and the sharpening stone. But basically, mid-thigh height. The length and depth were determined by the board that I used for the top: the length is approximately one-third of the length of the original board (but allowing for two of the three slats to protrude slightly, as support for workpieces that hang over the edge); the width is three slats wide, plus the spaces between.

Making it thigh-height does deviate from most other sawbenches: most people make theirs just under the knee, to facilitate kneeling on the wood they're cutting. Again, I intentionally made mine higher than that, so that I could better use it as an emergency workbench (or a workbench for my kids). And mid-thigh still works for kneeling on the boards I'm cutting -- although, sometimes I supplement it with a clamp.

Anyhow: I used this arrangement for three nights, sweeping up the sawdust and wood shavings each night, but otherwise leaving everything set up.

And then, the night before my wife came home, I put everything away.


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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Saw handle

This occurred back on November 8th, but I'm only now writing about it.

My brother-in-law (next door) was cutting down his old banana tree. (For a boy from Seattle, this still seems extremely exotic.) The plastic handle on his pruning saw was pretty cracked, so he mentioned to me that he was thinking about throwing the saw away and buying a new one.

"Noooooo!!!!", I cried. (Well, mentally.) I hate waste, and the blade was still perfectly good.

Instead, I offered to just make him a new saw handle.

I have a few large branches from a lagistromia(sp?) tree that used to be in his grandmother's front yard. It's an oddly slow-growing tree: this gives it a very tight grain pattern.

I cut a curved section from one of the branches, of the same length and general shape as the original plastic handle. The original handle had a hole in the end, presumably for hanging (either on a nail, or putting a cord through it). To approximate this, I left a branch stub on the end. It also would prevent his hand from sliding off the end if his hand got sweaty, much like the bulge at the end of the original handle.

I re-used the same bolts, nuts, and washers from the original handle.

I tried to finish this mini-project pretty quickly, as I have several half-finished projects and didn't need another. So, I took the "quick and functional" approach, rather than trying to make it look pretty. The end result is therefore at the "folk craft" end of the scale, rather than "fine craftsmanship".

Except for wood rasping away a ridge from the side of the branch (to make it more comfortable to grab), it was just sawcuts and drilling some holes. I don't think I even bothered putting boiled linseed oil on the handle.

I used all hand-tools, except for an electric drill for the holes.

Because my workshop doesn't have electric lighting, I was racing darkness to get this done. But I managed to finish just before it got too dark to work. The whole task took about two hours.


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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Tool storage ergonomics

This is a good article (short and punchy!) on efficient tool storage, relative to your work habits. The author focuses on woodworking -- but I think it would apply to any hobby, craft, or occupation where you have tools that you store, yet need to access them.


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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mystery tool

Picked this up cheap, but not sure what it is.

Clearly, it's some form of screwdriver -- but it has a pair of sleeves or collars and the shaft. The collars are screw-threaded, such that as you turn each one it progresses up, or down, the shaft. You turn one, then turn the other to follow it until they're snugged up together; this locks them in place.

Maybe the collar keeps the screw head from falling off the side of the screwdriver blade? I have an e-mail out to the OldTools list, so hopefully someone will have an answer.



Monday, December 05, 2011

Keep some tools at work

In 1998 at J.C. Penny's there was a sale where if you bought some certain amount of merchandise, for an extra twenty bucks you could get a tool kit. I took them up on the offer, and since then at all of my different "office jobs", I've always had a tool kit under my desk.

It's one of those "briefcase"-style tool kits, with all the basics: hammer, tape measure, pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers...

In each of my jobs, people have been amused that I have a tool kit at work. And then, a few weeks, or a few months, later, they ask to borrow it: loose screw, desk that needs disassembling, whatever.

At my current job it's been under my desk for about half a year, without use. But then in the last two weeks it's been used five times. So, once again, it's proved its usefulness. :)



Saturday, December 03, 2011

Language development

Both of my young sons (less than 4 y.o.) have been saying things of late that show a remarkable command of language. The sentences aren't complicated, but they provide some fine distinctions.

For example: This morning, The Lady and The Girl were heading off to do the usual Saturday errands. Sometimes the boys and I go with; other times we stay home.

B1 expressed interest in going with them. He said, "I want to look at hammers."

I told him, "I just **bought** you and B2 a hammer last week." (An inexpensive -- five bucks -- but solid hammer at the new big-box hardware store. Their first hammers!)

B1 replied, "No, I want to LOOK at hammers. I don't want to BUY a hammer."

Good nuance. :)


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