Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Magic stomach

One of my super-abilities is the ability to take a nap just about any time, any place.  I tap in to this when I travel:  I get on the plane, doze off -- and magically arrive at my destination.

Unfortunately, I also tend to do this in the car -- which means I don't know where anything is in town, because my wife does most of the driving (hometown girl!).  Despite having lived here for ten years.


My other super-ability is having a pretty big gap between satiation (i.e. ''I'm no longer hungry'') and being actually **full**.

For example:  Today my co-workers and I went out to lunch at a Japanese place.  I ordered the udon noodles and beef -- basically, a fairly large bowl o' noodle soup.  When the server delivered it to my end of the table, she also gave me a large bowl of rice with teriyaki beef on top.  ''Wow,'' I thought to myself.  ''I didn't know that it came with rice.  That's a good value for money.''

Since the soup was kinda hot, I started in on the rice and teriyaki.  I was about halfway through when I overheard my colleague, at the other end of the table, comment that her order of teriyaki rice had never arrived.  Oops.

I apologized, and said that I thought it had just been part of my meal.  She said that was fine:  the server has assumed that it was their error, and was bringing out a replacement.


After I finished the teriyaki rice, I wasn't hungry any more.  But neither was I **full**.  So I turned to my noodle soup -- a complete ''lunch'' by itself.  And I finished the whole thing.

And a can of orange soda.


And then that afternoon, at work, I was a bit peckish.  So I had a few handfuls of cashews.


My co-workers at my old job sometimes wondered how I'm not the size of a house.  The reason is that I don't eat like that **all** the time -- only at work, when there's leftover food that I think might go to waste.

Most of the time, I don't eat that much.


--GG

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Geeky diversity

I have a lot of interests, and not a lot of time.  Which, I suppose, means that I desperately need to win the lottery so I can work half-time (I don't think I'd **quit** work -- just scale back my hours) and actually indulge in my various interests.

One of my dad's bits of wisdom is that ''you can only spend money once''.  In other words, it's zero-sum:  you can buy five lattes **or** a CD.  So, I try to prioritize my purchases, based on what would be the most fun, useful, interesting; what would actually be used immediately, rather than purchased and then sit in the queue, **waiting** to be used.

So, **normal** people have one main hobby, and that's what they throw their disposible income at:  football tickets and fan paraphernalia; golfing gear; fishing gear; car stuff...

I have ''battling interests''.  Should I buy a AU-to-U.S. voltage converter, so that I can use my American-voltage recording gear -- or should I buy a decent, rest-of-my-life lathe (see left)?  Should I buy a basic (single-trace) oscilloscope from Jaycar for around $150 -- or an entry-level (but of adequate quality) drill press?  I could attend the local Black Crane style of kung fu, twice a week -- or I could devote the same time to recording my songs, and spend three months' of class fees on a ribbon microphone.

And there's a pretty groovy vocoder-synth I've had my eye on.  Although it's equivalent to a year's worth of slushies.


At the moment, the answer is ''none of the above'' -- because I'm having a hard enough time just squeeing some some guitar time, and I haven't recorded with the few tools I **have** for a few months, now.  And I don't have the time to install a lathe, let alone a drill press.

Time, time, time.


--GG

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sorry bookstore

While exploring the neighborhood of my new job posting, I came across a small bookstore.

Had a look.  In their ''Foreign Language'' section, didn't have Australian Sign Language (Auslan), so I asked at the front counter.

''No,'' the lady said.  ''But we can order it in for you.''


Sorry, modern-day bookstore.  The only advantage that non-internet stores have is that you can feel it hold it touch it browse it feel it, and take it home today.

If it involves ordering it, waiting for it, and having to come back -- if it involves buying it sight-unseen, don't know if it's the right size or not -- I know how to do that myself.  For cheaper.


''Ordering it in'' only works for people that don't know how to use the internet.


--GG

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Strange times

Saturday, late morning, while I was still somewhat ill, my Director (my boss' boss) phoned me at home to see how I was coping, and to reassure me that we'd all be placed in new jobs.

''Whaaa...?'' I replied, in my illness.  ''I guess this means that we've been dissolved?''

We'd had an inkling that with a new political party in charge of the state government that we might be on the chopping block.  Looks like we were right.

Apparently, on Friday (the day that I was out, sick), two reps from HR had called everyone into the meeting room and announced that our business unit had been dissolved.  We had two and a half days to archive all of our documents and clean out our desks:  we'd report to our new jobs Wednesday morning.

A shame, as we were doing good (and interesting!) work.  If we'd had a month's notice, we could've finished up some of our projects which were **very** close to completion.  As it is, I doubt that they'll see the light of day.


Ah well.  At least we all still have jobs.


So:  these last two days back at work have been disorienting.  Basically being away for two weeks -- then returning to everyone wearing jeans and packing up the office.  Tomorrow I report to my new position.


--GG

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Better

Sunday I was better; basically back to normal.

Worked on the chicken coop a little.  Also assembled two garden bed kits that The Lady had bought, for her impending veggie garden:  she's planted seeds in little ''starter'' containers, and when they've sprouted, she'll plant them in the garden beds.



--GG

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My review of The DaVinci Code

I set out fully intending to not enjoy The Da Vinci Code -- I rented it just for the secret rooms -- but ended up being captivated and throughly enjoying it.

There are some historical innacuracies, and the central premise doesn't make sense if you stop and think about it:  proving that Jesus had been married and had children wouldn't neutralize Christianity or the Catholic church: the whole point is that he WAS A HUMAN when he died on the cross for us.  And getting DNA from Jesus' wife and comparing it to his current descendant wouldn't prove that he/she was **Jesus'** desendant -- just that she/he was from Jesus' wife (e.g. maybe she re-married after Jesus died).

But, a fun movie.  Worth a rent.


--GG

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

My review of Sucker Punch movie

Well, I'm feeling a bit better.  Well enough to be bored with being ill, and so I went out and rented a DVD.


Sucker Punch was on my ''to watch'' list for a while.  Rented it; watched it.

It was ''o.k.''.  Not brilliant, in this post Matrix world.  Cartoon-ish violence, serviceable dialogue, don't remember if there was cussing or not.  Loads o' empty action.

Some sexual overtones that some people will find unsettling.

The narrative structure was kind of a story-within-a-story, but I found it a little disorienting.


Not horrible, and worth a rent if you enjoyed The Matrix and you can't think of anything else to rent.


--GG

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Friday, May 18, 2012

My turn to be sick

Ayep!  Now **I'm** home, sick.

Spent the whole day asleep, except for every two or so hours where I'd wake up, use the toilet, have a cup of tea and go back to bed.  Feel crummy.

In the past two weeks, I've only been in to work one day each work.  Rather disorienting.  It'll be weird to go in to work on Monday.


--GG

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another odd workweek

And it continues...

As with last week, stayed home with sick children.

Went in to work on Monday.  Strange to be back.

Tuesday, Weds, and Thurs, home with The Girl.

It's now Thursday night and **I'm** feeling a bit poorly -- so **I** might be the sick one on Friday.  Plus, The Girl is still a little off:  on the way back from the doctor's (have to get a doctor's note after three days of illness), she threw up a little (first time for this round of illness).

So, two weeks in a row with only one day worked for each.

--GG


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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oddball pedal

While intonating the Hanna Montana guitar that I keep at work (doesn't everyone???), the bolt that adjusts one of the saddles got stuck:  cheap hardware.  So, I'm going to replace it with a Les Paul-style bridge.

Since I'll be modding it anyhow, I decided to do some funky things with the electronics (which I'll describe when I actually **do** it).  So I had to dig though my pile of boxes to find the box (about the size of a shoebox) of electronics parts that I haven't used in three years.

Managed to find it!  And, in doing so, came across this oddball effects pedal.


I don't actually remember buying it -- but, clearly I did.  Likely off of eBay, around 2002 or 2003, in Seattle.  Presumably I tested it, to make sure it worked...


Guitarists will, at first glance, think it's a wah-wah pedal.  The rest of you can do a YouTube search for wah pedals; I'm sure there's a few videos there.

BUT -- note that it has an XLR output (microphone output) on the side.  The other side has a mic input.

As indicated by the instructions on the back (click photo to enlarge), you set a minimum and maximum volume level with the two knobs on the side.  Then you use the foot pedal to sweep between those two settings.

Kind of like a guitarists volume pedal -- except that it's for micing the amp for recording or PA work.


My immediate thought is that this pedal is clever -- but wrong-headed. Seems like you could just use a distortion, boost or overdrive pedal (with the level of distortion set to minimum) to get a louder or quieter volume ''on the fly''.  Or, just use a volume pedal (although, it wouldn't have the pre-set volume levels).

But my second thought was that if you leave the mic at the same level and reduce the guitar signal, then the room noise (and amp hum) will still exist, and may overshadow the ''good'' (guitar) signal that you want.  So having a way of keeping the guitar output volume at the same relative level to the room noise and the amp hum actually makes a lot of sense.


Still, I don't think I'll actually use it:  when recording, I don't tend to turn my effects on and off.  So everything for that pass is supposed to be at a fairly consistent volume.

So, oddball -- and I'll probably never use it.  But perhaps it's collectable.


Certainly, it's interesting.  :)

--GG


P.S.  For the Google search robots:  it's a Jim Dunlop ''Lead Master'' pedal, model SL-50.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Slow pan upwards

I rather like this.

It's my back yard, and my children's (somewhat rusty) swingset.

video

Although I miss the weather (and all the nice people I know) in Seattle -- it's still pretty neat-o to live in Australia.  Exotic (to me, anyhow).


--GG

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Movie called ONCE

Rented this without knowing much about it -- but the description on the back looked good (love story!  busking musician!  songs!), and the sales clerk had said he'd watched it and liked it.  Watched it last night.

The movie is called ''Once''.  It's about a street corner guitarist (in Ireland?), who meets a woman (Polish immigrant?) who plays the piano.  He writes good songs, and she provides harmony vocals and piano accompaniment.  There's also some scenes in a recording studio (yay!).

Some cussing, and I had to put the subtitles on because they had Irish accents.

A fairly gentle movie (no anger or violence; paced mellow), and enjoyable.  Good songs.

Liked it enough that I'm glad I saw it.  But not so much that I'll rush out to buy the DVD.


--GG

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Weird work week

OK -- this has been a weird work-week.

Monday was a public holiday -- so, stayed home.

Tuesday, stayed home with a sick kid (The Girl).

Weds, went in to work.  But my boss was away, as was the other research guy, so I was the only one in my team:  a little disorienting.

Thursday, did a guest lecture for a co-worker of my wife, as the university that's about six blocks away from my building.  While walking to work after the lecture, I got a phone call on my cell phone that Blondie Boy (Boy #1) had thrown up a bit at daycare.  So, stopped by work for about 10 mins, then went home to pick up the kid.  So worked about 10 minutes.

Friday, Blondie Boy still sick.


So, worked this week for one day, plus about 10 minutes.  I forget how many sick days I have left:  hopefully still a few!


--GG

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two from my work window

Two snapshots from my window, at work.



No filters or tricks -- just an inexpensive digital camera and a nice view.


--TWAB

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

When free is just too frustrating

So, what little home recording I've done over the last year has been done with Audacity, which is freeware.

Initially, it worked well enough.  It's fine for recording from a microphone and doing multi-tracking (e.g. drums, then bass, than guitar, then vocals on top).

But about two months ago when a friend asked me for some mp3s of my old songs (sorry, No Tower! It's still on my ''to do'' list!), and I tried to convert them from *.wav to *.mp3 format, the result had weird ''warbly'' artifacts.

And today I tried to convert a *.wma file (from a voice recorder) from work, into an *.mp3 file so that it would be small enough to post on our website.  Audacity said that it didn't have the right component to make the conversion -- but I could download it.  OK, fine.  ((But, see end of this post...))

So I downloaded it and installed it -- but Audacity said that it couldn't find it.  The instructions on the website said how to show Audacity where on the computer it was located -- so I followed the instructions.  Still didn't work:  it found the location on the hard drive, but I couldn't get it to **accept** the location.  Gah!

I re-read the instructions, and **after** step #6, it said that if you have Audacity running when you install the extra bit, it may have trouble recognizing it.   GAH!!!  Seems like should be Step #1: exit out of Audacity, to allow it to install properly...

Closed out of everything.  Still doesn't work.


OK -- that's enough of that.  A friend suggested the recording software called Reaper -- http://www.reaper.fm/purchase.php   I like their business model:  the license fee is US$60 if you're an individual, or if you're a company that makes less thank US$20,000 a year.  Fair enough.  Otherwise the license is US$225 (which is still very reasonable).


So:  you get what you pay for.  At this point, though, the free software doesn't do what I need it to do.  Time to move on.

If I don't write anything additional about Reaper, you can presume that it's working fine.  :)


ADDENDUM:  As it turns out, when I visited the Audacity site again, it turns out that the newest release has been out for about a month.  Downloaded and installed **that**, and it immediately recognized the codecs (conversion files) that I had been trying to install.

Imported the audio, and spent several pretty enjoyable hours tidying up the audio file.

So:  Audacity redeemed itself.  And I'll pay for Reaper when I actually use it for recording. 

(Note to my readers:  I **really** like Reaper's business model.  Although they prefer that you pay for the software, they refuse -- on principle -- to sabotage or reduce the functionality of the software to force you to pay.  So, when I actually start using it, I **will** pay the thirty bucks.)


--GG

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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Long weekend

Monday was Labor Day -- a Federal holiday, so no work.

Tuesday, sick child, so stayed home from work.  (Usually The Lady does this, as her work schedule -- she's a professor -- lets her do her work at the kitchen table on her laptop.  But she has a big report due in a week and a half -- so, it's my turn.

Staying home with a sick child was well-timed, as I'd broken the hinge on my glasses on Monday.  Used a Popsicle stick as a splint, and had taped it together -- so, wear-able.  But not great.

(On eyeglasses, the hinge is typically a screw.  I've had my glasses for about three(?) years, so the screw hole had worn itself larger. Typically I just bend over a piece of wire and use the wire as a hinge-pin.  Awkwardly, the bottom of the screw was still in the hinge, which meant the hole was blocked -- thus negating my solution.)

So, took The Girl (slightly ill) with me to my usual optometrist.  Didn't have an appointment, so they squeezed me in.  But, I'd have to wait for a hour and a half until he had a opening.  So, we wandered the neighborhood.  She fatigued easily, but was mostly stoic.

So, the timing was pretty good: sick kid, stay home from work on the same day I needed to get my glasses fixed.


BONUS:   After we got back from the optometrist, I lay down in bed with the sick child next to me.  I took a nap -- the first one in months.  DELIGHTFUL!!!


--GG

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Monday, May 07, 2012

Chickens in the bathroom

As you may recall, we have four (or five?  I've lost track) chickens living over at The Lady's parents' house.  And I'm in the highly-prolonged process of building a chicken coop.

Meanwhile, we have four formerly-baby chicks living in a plastic tote in our second bathroom.  During the night we leave the heat lamp on, and a towel covering the tote (there's also a board across the tote, so that they can't jump out).  During the days that one of us is at home -- and during the late afternoon, after The Lady picks the kids up from school and daycare -- we let them run around in the fenced-in children's yard just outside the back door. 

The fence is about as high as my waist, and the little chickens can flap and semi-fly, but only about the height of my knee.  So, it works.  Gives them some outdoors time.

I'm polite to the chickens, but they're not **my** pets.  The Lady gets their food and water, and cleans out their cage (currently with wood shavings in the bottom; I dump them on our potted plants, as mulch).  And the kids do a lot of cuddling with them.  So by the time they're fully-grown, they'll be **very** used to being handled.

Here's a video clip of the boys in the bathroom, cuddling the chickies.

video


Also:  our How to Care for Your Chicken books (we have three, so far) indicate that chickens tend to sleep in the highest perch possible.  I guess they feel safest doing that.

I looked out the window one day and noticed that all four of them were perched on my woodworking stump -- just hanging out .  Funny.  :)


--GG

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Big toolbox


My shed is basically a big toolbox.

(Cultural note:  What Americans would call a ''(detached) garage'', Australians call a shed.  Also smaller, garden sheds, woodsheds, workshops, etc.)

During this remarkably drawn-out chicken coop project, I stage all the tools that I'm actively using in the doorway of the shed.

Big jug o' juice (to keep hydrated:  I drink one of these a day.  It's actually diluted to about 1/4 strength).  Extension cord.  Various clamps.  Jar of paint.  And etcetera.

Then, as I use them, I bring them out to my work area, next to the chicken coop.  I either place them on the ''raised garden bed kit'' (the pile of lumber) that The Lady purchased about two weeks ago (which I have not yet assembled -- because I'm still building a chicken coop!), or else on my sawbench.

And then, slightly after dark, I gather everything up and put it back in the entrance to the shed.


The chicken coop project is interesting enough.  But I'm looking forward to completing it, and moving on to other tasks.


--GG

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Guitar geekery


During my lunch break at work yesterday, I tried to adjust the intonation of my guitar.  (That is:  micro-adjust the string length, by making small adjustments at the tail end of the guitar.)  The photo shows it laid out on the cabinet at the end of our large meeting room.

You can see the clip-on tuner on the headstock.  It's the round thingy.  Love it.


**Unfortunately**, one of the bridge saddles got jammed.  Looks like I'm going to need bolt cutters to snip through the bolt and remove it -- and then buy a replacement one.  (The bridge saddles are **not** high-quality.)

Although:  I'm thinking about replacing them with another sort of bridge.


Anyhow, just thought I'd share.  Not too many office workers spent their Friday lunch break doing guitar maintenance, I reckon.


--GG

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Sad and beautiful song

I think this song is both sad and beautiful.  But you may not like it if you dislike '80s synths.



Yaz (or ''Yazoo'', depending on if you're in the U.S. or the UK).  The song is called ''Only You''.


--GG

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

One drum per child

I'm not sure what inherent musical ability my three children have.

But if **any** of them have any sort of inherent ability, it'll fall on fertile soil.

Check it out (note the mandatory hearing protection):

video

The drumsticks that The Girl is using were made by my late grandfather, on his woodturning lathe.  They're thicker than standard drumsticks, which I like, so they're the main ones I use.


--GG

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Probability

I
I took this photo on March 31st.  It's The Girl, keeping a tally of all the numbers that come up when you roll the pictured dice.

Each of the kids has a six-sided die -- and each is a different color, so each kid knows whose is whose.  They were playing a game that's kind of like ''heads or tails'', but with six options instead of two:  everyone picks a number from one through six, and then the die is rolled until someone's guess comes up; the person with the correct guess is the winner.

(I came up with this because with three children in the house, this is more equitable than trying to do ''heads or tails'' -- where each time, someone would have to be left out of the game.)

The Girl was complaining that her die (the pink one) wasn't fair -- that it kept coming up with the same number. So, I suggested that we test it.

And, that's what we're doing:  I roll the die, and call out the result; she adds it to the tally.

As you can see, it's not **quite** evenly distributed yet:  the fours and fives are ahead.  But the other numbers are starting to catch up.

By the way:  from a statistical point of view, we'd have to roll the die 200-300 time to have a sufficiently decent baseline to determine whether the die is **truly** unbalanced.   


--GG

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