Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, August 31, 2012


I'm one of about twelve people in the world who doesn't have a Facebook profile -- or whatever they're called.

Here's why:

1) I've heard anecdotal (e.g on news programs) instances of people closing out their Facebook account, only to find that after a while it gets re-activated for you.  Also that even when you close out your account, all your data is retained.

2) My understanding (and limited experience) is that one can not view another person's Facebook page unless you have a Facebook acount. This is in contrast to (most) blogs, corporate/organizational/individual websites, MySpace, and others.  I can accept not being able to post **comments** unless one is a member, or if it's a service to which one subscribes -- but to not even be able to **view** a page unless one is a member seems exclusionary, and a bit "precious" (an Aussie term).  So, "Thbbbbtttt!!!" to Facebook.  (Addendum:  I've been informed that this isn't always true.  OK -- fair enough.)

3) According to Wil Wheaton's blog, Facebook has an ongoing habit of (a) steamrolling over privacy issues, (b) exercising poor data security,  and (c) activating "features" on accounts, thereby forcing people to opt **out** (as opposed to Blogspot/Gmail, which tends to hound you about new features, but generally has an "opt in" approach).   No thanks; not the sort of people I like to interact with.

4) That facial recognition stuff is freaky.  Although it's the new reality, so in a few years it'll be unavoidable.

5) I don't feel the need.  Everyone I really need to communicate with online, I do through e-mail.

6) I really don't need yet another username and account.  I have too many online accounts/usernames/passwords as it is.

7) I arguably spend too much time online (granted, mostly in pointless Google searches, Wikipedia links, and YouTube ''trails''...).  I don't need to open another black hole (and part of why I haven't signed up for Twitter; I've also pared back on the number of blogs I follow).

8) Fear of identity theft.  I use a pseudonym here on my blog, as well as code names for family and friends.  I don't feel like ''going public'' with my name, to aid people in figuring out my identifying particulars.  And if I continue my pseudonym on Bookface -- well, what's the point, then? 

I think that's it; there may be more, if I thought about it.  ;)


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

More ties

Even though my sister-in-law, who lives next door, is my age, she doesn't have any parents left.  And that's pretty crummy.

But that's not the point of this post.

Her dad died about a year ago, and a few weeks ago she mentioned to me that somewhere she has a few ties from him.  When she came across them she'd give them to me, as her husband doesn't really wear ties.

And now she found 'em.

They're pictured above.  Four bow ties (gotta learn how to tie them!!!), and five ''regular'' neckties.

I'll wear each of the neckties during the next week or two, and them mix them into the regular rotation.  I forget how many ties I have, total.  50?  60?  Dunno.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Latent computers

On the one hand, I stopped subscribing to Linux Format, as I was falling behind, I was trying to economize on my magazine buying, and my guitar and woodworking magazines were trumping LXF.

That is, if I received a woodworking or guitar magazine at the same time as the Linux magazine, the Linux magazine would be the one left behind.

So, I figured that my interests had shifted away from computers.  And they pretty much have.

Although:  just now, I wondered how the ''Puppy Linux'' distro was faring -- so I Wikipedia'd it.  And then I clicked on the ''Lighweight Linux'' link.  And then on the ''List of Operating Systems'' link, then ''Haiku'' (which is a replacement for BeOS) and ''MINIX''.

So, yeah:  compared to ''normal'' people, I do have an interest in computers.

But it's still trumped by my interest in music, and woodworking.

For now.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Scratch paper

I've lived here ten years, and I'm **still** discovering Aussie-isms.

Around Seattle, at least, we call it ''scratch paper''.

Here, it's called ''scribble paper'' or ''scrap paper''. 

My wife says this, and so do my co-workers, so it's probably pretty standard.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Temba, his arms wide

There's a really good episode of Star Trek:  Next Generation called ''Darmok''.  The plot revolves around the inability of the crew of the Enterprise to communicate with a race of aliens who speak only in metaphor.

Had a hankering to see it, so I borrowed the DVD from my sister-in-law.

Watched it, then thought it'd be fun to spring these phrases on people, now and again -- kind of like exclaiming ''Great balls of fire!!!'' So I jotted down all the phrases that I thought could be used conversationally.

But after a few mornings on the bus, trying to memorize them, my enthusiasm waned:  I'm not good at straight memorization.

However, during this process, I did a web search and discovered that my interpretation of the meaning of these phrases differs from that of other people's.  So, I've presented my interpretations below. 

Note that vocal inflection indicates the magnitude of the meaning, and whether you're being serious or wry (e.g.  ''That's a tragedy.'' vs.  ''That's a TRAGEDY!!!'').  Also, I noticed that I often provided an American ideoms as well as straight definitions -- which I think fits the theme.

Shaka, when the walls fell.  Throwing up your hands in exasperation; frustration, often over a difficult, futile or impossible task.

Kiteo, his eyes closed.  Not ''getting it''; failure to understand.

Sokath, his eyes uncovered.  (Alt: Sokath, his eyes open.)  Finally ''getting it''.  Insight and understanding as a transition from not understanding.

The river Temarc, in winter.  Impossible, or at least very difficult; very hard going.  (Presumably this river is very rough in winter.) 

Mirab, his sails unfurled.  (Alt:  Mirab, with sails unfurled.)  Either ''Let's get outta here'', ''Let's beat it'', ''Cut our losses and leave'' -- or else ''Make it so'', ''Let's get on with it''.  Hard to tell by the context -- although I think the former.

Temba, his arms wide.  (Alt:  Temba, his arms open.)  Generosity; a gift; sharing.

Temba, at rest.  The scales are balanced; you've done enough; we're good, thanks.

Uzani, his army with fist open.  Drawing someone in.

Uzani, his army with fist closed.  Seizing the moment; bringing the hammer down.

Uzani, his army at Lashmir.  Both of the above techniques, used in series; the ol' rope-a-dope.

Darmok on the ocean.  Isolation or loneliness.

Darmok and Jalad, on the ocean.  Solidarity, possibly with a touch of companionship.

Kiazi's children, their faces wet.  Sadness over a loss, possibly specific to death.


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Sunday, August 26, 2012


As I've mentioned before, I hate waste.  And, I'm a little cheap sometimes.  And, I like solving problems.

I have a pair of reading glasses that work just fine -- my eyeglass prescription has been the same for the last ten years or so.  But the coating on the earpieces wore out.  My solution was to use black shrink tubing (as used in electronics) to form a covering.

Around August 21st, the plastic ends of the earpieces finally came off.  My solution, the next evening, was to add another layer of shrink tubing -- this time, green -- purchased a few years ago, when visiting Old Roommate in the U.S.

Seems to work.  And, it now has some green.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Matrix elevator

This is from inside one of the lifts at work.  Reminds me a bit of The Matrix.

A little spooky, when I have to work late and then catch the elevator down.


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Friday, August 24, 2012

Not a hoarder

A few days ago I watched a reality t.v. show on hoarders.  And two nights ago I saw an extreme one:  an English guy who had so many newspapers saved that he had to squirm on his belly to get under the top of his doorways.  His ceiling lights were only about two feet from the top of the newspapers!

After a lot of reflection, I've decided that I am not a hoarder.  I'm definitely on the spectrum -- but I'm nowhere close to the ''clinical'' end.  Although I'm probably on the dangerous side of the mid-point.

(BTW -- photo is from the web.  Not my house!!!)

Here's my reasoning:

1) I collect things -- but only within specific realms:  glow-in-the-dark objects, green things, frog things, figurines doing martial arts, figurines playing instruments, scraps of wood, rusty chunks of metal.  But I don't have rooms of these things -- they're pretty ''contained''.  And I don't collect fabric or plastic bits.

2) I only collect within certain parameters.  For example, all my glow-in-the-dark items are gifts, or I got them for less than five bucks.  And I only get them if they appeal:  no demon heads.  For scraps of lumber, once my stash reached a certain size, I stopped picking up pieces shorter than my forearm.

3) I actually get rid of things.  I throw things away, give things away, and recycle.  As long as I can find a good home for something, I don't mind letting go of it.  Mostly it's that I can't stand waste:  people throwing things away that are still good, or would be good with only a minor repair (e.g. a missing button).

4) My quasi-hoarding behavior has actually decreased, not increased, over time.  I collect less lumber than I did a few years ago, and I am more likely to turn down offers of ''free'' things.  I generally decline things that I don't have a pretty good idea of how I'd use it.

5) I actually use some of my stash.  For example, although I haven't used each piece (yet!), I regularly raid my stash of wood for various projects.

That being said, I've heard that mental illness don't get better with age.  So I need to continue to monitor my behavior.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Good day in the new building

To recap, after my original work unit was dissolved by the new government, the twelve of us were scattered to the winds.  Most of them were re-assigned to another government building -- although in different departments and on different floors.  But one co-worker (DP) and myself were assigned to a different building.  And another co-worker (LK) was sent to yet another building, several blocks away.

Our re-location now means that we are in the same building as most of our former colleagues.  And DP and LK are together in the same suite of pods.

Our proximity to our old co-workers was driven home today when I randomly crossed paths with VJ, JdS, and NS today.  So, including DP and LK (mentioned above), I saw half of our old group today.  Pretty neat-o!   :)


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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bus wisdom

Saw this scribbled on the upper wall of the bus today.  No idea what it means -- but it intrigues me.

Might make a good song lyric.

You may have to click on the photo to be able to read the text at the beginning.

I don't approve of vandalism, of course.  But, interesting, none the less.


P.S.  Googled it.  Ah.

Still odd.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New desk

Well, this is our second day in the new location.  My desk is pretty much set up.

Due to downsizing, and the resulting consolidation (i.e. other teams moving, as well), our old floor had been half-empty for the last few weeks.  So, a few days before our move I ''harvested'' things from abandoned pods.

One ''find'' was an abandoned plant.  I kept an eye on it for a week, but I figured that it was well and truly abandoned:  it only had an inch of water in the pot when I found it -- but the root growth indicated that it usually had water nearly all the way to the top.  So it had been forgotten long enough for about five inches of water to evaporate.  Fair game.

I also picked up several stacking trays:  five, to be precise.  I've discovered that I prefer having little cubbies for different piles of paper.  Although one of the stacking trays is stepped -- the levels have different lengths -- so I'm using it as display shelves for my family photos.

And, here's a shot of my top drawer. I'm still trying to figure out how to store my food stash.  At the moment, as you can see, my root beer and Dr Pepper (both rarities around here!) are sharing the drawer with my stationery supplies.

Bottom drawer (not shown) holds more food, plus a whole lotta CDs.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bathroom door cleat

Ever since I started my new job, I noticed that one of the toilet stalls in the mens room was missing the cleat:  there was no ''stop'' to keep the door from swinging too far when you shut it; and you had to hold the door in position to throw the latch.

Yesterday (Friday), I noticed that someone has installed a wooden cleat.  So, now the door swings to the required position, and then stops.  Yay!!!

It's an interesting shape.  Whoever installed it made sure to remove any sharp corners, and also rounded the leading end so that it wouldn't catch on sleeves or pants pockets.  Good design.

However, it's slightly asymmetrical.  I infer from this that the creator was relatively new to woodworking, in a hurry, or both.

Judging by the scribed alignment marks (e.g. between the square nuts), it appears to be handmade, rather than machined.

If you look at the exterior of the door (see left), the person had enough attention to detail to ''clock'' the screw heads -- that is, line up the slots.

All in all, an interesting little piece.  Very non ''corporate'', at least.  Certainly more personality than some metal or plastic rectangle that someone would buy at a hardware store.

A shame that this appeared on my last day in this building.  We've been re-located to a different building:  our first day in the new building is Monday.


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Friday, August 17, 2012

One regret

A pondering from riding the bus today:

I have very few regrets.  But one of them was not -- somehow -- acquiring a wood- turning lathe while living in Seattle.  Especially at our Greenwood apartment, which had a nice little deck.  I could've picked up what is often referred to as a midi-sized lathe -- like in the photo at left.

I'd like to buy a lathe in the next half year or so:  I've wanted one for the last ten years, but just haven't had a good place to put it.  Actually, I still don't -- but with some re-arranging of the shed, I would.

My (late) paternal grandfather did a lot of lathe work.  It would be good to have him around as a resource to ask questions about lathe work.  I did some simple pieces on his lathe, on two or three different occasions, so I know I have the general capacity.  But I'm sure once I get in to it I'll have additional questions.

So, opportunity lost.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Found a few

Went to an antique shop this last weekend, for the first time in quite a while.  Picked up a few old tools for a very reasonable price -- for around here, anyhow.

First photo here shows a big ol' wooden clamp, a small gent's saw (first one I've ever owned), and a rabbet plane that's a different thickness than any of my others.  Also an old ruler of mine, for a sense of scale.

I cleaned up the rust on the gent's saw, and it's a user.  The rabbet plane I've tidied up and pressed into service.  The clamp is going into my ''Future Gifts'' box, which The Lady rummages through for Father's Day, birthday, and Christmas gifts for me.

One thing that amused me was the price sticker (see below) which called the rabbet plane a ''spokeshave''.

Actually, **these** are spokeshaves:
But, antique dealers handle a broad variety of objects, across many trades and time periods -- can't be expected to know everything.

These are an assortment of oddball bits, for a brace.  I usually call them ''augers'', but I think that's technically incorrect.  The lady had a bunch of cellophane bags with about 15 bits per bag.  Most of them were pretty ordinary -- looked like the one in the top left with the green arrow pointing to it -- and I already have plenty of those.  Whereas this one has a bunch of old-timey and specialized bits, like spade bits, a spoon bit, a countersink bit, and a bit (I believe) for making the end of a dowel all pointy.

So, a pretty decent haul, at a pretty decent price.  They also had two old-timey workbenches, but one was waaaaay expensive (over a thousand dollars), and the other was pretty beat up -- not suitable for actual woodworking.


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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kid tools

Today is Saturday.  And last Saturday, the kids and I stopped by the local pawn shop (again), to look for tools.

The kids choose their own tools -- spend their own allowance on their tools -- and the tools get added to their own tool box (actually, a bucket). 

My haul was modest (see left).  One trick I learned from my paternal grandfather was to leave an often-used tool at the location that you use it.  For example, he had a specific size screwdriver hanging next to the furnace door, to facilitate changing the filter.  In my case, I was looking to pick up a crescent wrench of the correct size for my bench grinder -- for around 50c.  I'd duct-tape it to the power cord, so I'd always have it handy.  I also wanted an inexpensive adjustable wrench for my workshop, since I keep my ''good'' set of wrenches elsewhere.  And, as you can see, I found 'em!  I think they were 50c each.

My youngest son picked up a broken section (!!!) of a 45-45-90 drafting triangle, and an old-timey crescent wrench.  My daughter picked up a masonry drill bit, and a hooked pulling device -- which she'd strike with the masonry bit to get a ''ting'' sound.

As usual, my elder son (twin to to my younger son) had the biggest stash -- but also spent the most money.  He got an old-timey double-ended crescent wrench, a newer (inexpensive) double-ended crescent wrench, a bent screwdriver, another old-timey crescent wrench, a pair of pruners (potentially dangerous -- but I don't allow them free access to their tools), and a disposable box cutter (again, he can use it when he's older).

Here's some snapshots from the previous trip -- possibly in May -- that I just haven't posted.  Here's The Girl's stash:  a Phillips screwdriver and a C-clamp with the pad missing.

Here's B1's haul:  four sockets (he doesn't yet have a socket wrench), a combination wrench, two screwdrivers, and a chisel.

And, here's B2's stash -- again, the largest of the three.  A combination wrench, five screwdrivers, a caulking gun, and a pair of needlenose pliers.

Trying to teach them the importance of having an adequate stash of tools.

When they get older, we'll start being more methodical about it.  :)


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Friday, August 10, 2012

Nice weather

Lovely weather yesterday (Thurs) and today:  cool, but a slight breeze, and touch of warmth. 

Makes me want to stay home and build useful things out of wood.


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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Tall skinny apartment

On Monday of this week, during my lunchtime walk (I work downtown), I happened across a blopped-on section to a string of three-story office buildings and restaurants.  I peered in through the dusty first-floor windows and saw that there was a car parked in there, and there was storage (piled up old furniture) at the nose of the car. Also that there were fairly high ceilings.

I took some measurements of the exterior of the building -- using the small tape measure that I always have in my pocket (doesn't everyone?) -- and found that this appendage to the main building probably had an interior of 2.8m by 7.8m (I'll let you convert it to feet...).

I also noticed that, based on the windows, there were two floors of living space after the parking level.  So, windows on the long side, and the ends, but just wall on the other long side.

Based on all this, on the way home (on the bus) I sketched out a reasonably detailed "What if I Lived There" floorplan, with the first floor with the car, a stairway going up, and some storage and a chinup bar and weight stack under the stairs.

The second floor was the (very small!) kitchen and kitchen table, and sitting area (with a t.v. and built-in bookcase).  The stairs going to the top floor emerged in the small woodworking room.  A hallway passed the (very small) bathroom on the right and storage cupboards (above the stairs from the below level) on the left, and emerged into the bedroom/music room.  I managed to cram a single bed, small closet, and built in desk in there -- with room for a keyboard stand and pair of amps as well.  Guitars and basses would be stored under the bed.

The next day, I revised this floor plan a bit, using white-out.

On Wednesday, I totally re-thought my layout.  The first floor -- with the single-car parking space -- now had a very efficient woodshop in the area at the front of the car, which is under the stairs leading up.  This includes room for a woodworking lathe, a modest amount of lumber storage, and a rolling ''archive-style'' shelves.

The main floor is essentially the same as the previous version, although the kitchen is better thought-out and therefore roomier.

The top floor is more open, in that instead of two rooms at either end of the floor I now have a unified open space.  Except for the bathroom, in the corner of the floor nearest to the stairway opening, there is very little "hallway".

In the previous version I'd intentionally sequestered the woodworking from the music gear/bedroom; but because the current version has the woodworking downstairs, I've made the end of this floor a larger music room/bedroom.  The drums are up on a waist-high riser, with storage underneath.  The front of the drum riser is recessed, with a clothes bar (i.e. my closet).  The bed is a Murphy bed (i.e. folds into the wall when not in use).  I now have room for two four-drawer filing cabinets, next to the drum riser.  And I have an additional stairway, up to the roof.

The roof has a small rooftop garden (mostly fruits and veggies), a storage shed for the gardening supplies and additional lumber (but not too much, as it would be a pain to carry it down three flights of stairs), and a small carport-like structure that shields my punching bag and multi-gym from the rain.

I think my floorplan would actually work -- and I enjoyed figuring it out.

I think I would've made a decent architect.  Not the outside of the building, so much -- but I like working out floorplans.



Monday, August 06, 2012

No speed square

Well, **somewhere** I have a yellow Stanley ''Speed Square'' (I think that's the name).  It's a 45-degree triangle with a fence on one of the legs, so that you can mark out 90 degree and 45 degree lines on lumber.  I use it a lot in my carpentry projects.  Dang it.

So on Friday, on my lunch break, I stopped by the hardware store downtown.  I was thinking, Hey, it's a piece of heavy plastic with a lip -- five bucks?  ten bucks?

Turned out to be fifteen bucks.  Sorry, that's past my pricepoint for a piece of plastic.  Especially since I know I already have one.  Somewhere.


Addendum:  In all fairness, it turns out that mine was the Stanley ''Quick Square'' -- which may be the less-fancy version of what was offered at the hardware store.  But fifteen bucks is still too expensive (for me) for (1) a piece of plastic that (2) is a duplicate of what I already have.

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Sunday, August 05, 2012

Remarkably so

As I've mentioned before, one of the things I'm proud of is that despite being in my 40s, I'm still discovering new bands.  By ''new'', I mean bands that are breaking big and that kids these days appreciate.

One of the ways I try to stay open to new music is by listening to the radio.  On Thursday, I heard a song that I wrote in my notebook "Down to get down", "sleeping in my clothes", "we don't even have to try // it's always a good time'' and "sounds Owl City-ish.  Google the lyrics a few nights later -- and, yep -- it's a new Owl City song.

Dunno when I'll get the album.  But it's on my list.

There was also a song where the vocodored lyric ''Around the World'' kept repeating.  Yep:  Daft Punk.


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Friday, August 03, 2012

Bending the G

When playing the blues scale -- with a bit of distortion -- I really like bending notes that are on the G.

I just thought you should know that.



Thursday, August 02, 2012

Played again

Hey!  Actually played guitar for about an hour last night.

For a while -- i.e. for the few years -- I'd go for a month or two without playing guitar.  I'm now playing about twice a week.

Not as much as I'd like -- but it's a start.  And I **really** enjoy it.  Especially -- curiously -- bending the G and D strings (standard tuning) in the first box position in a blues scale.