Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hold it

I love a bargain -- and I enjoy re-purposing items.

There's a store downtown called The Reject Shop, where they stock various discontinued items and food that's near its expiration date.

They had a iPhone holder that mounts with a suction cup.  It's supposed to be for your car.

(That's a calculator:  I don't own an iPhone.)

But, I saw it, and realized that it would actually work well as a microphone holder.

The bananas are a counterweight.  I hadn't taken off the protective coating, so the mondo suction cup didn't work as it should -- sticking it to the laptop case.

For five bucks -- totally worth it.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Teaching quotes

All of these are from here:

(Why I sometimes explain a concept in a way that's only 98% correct.  --GG)

"A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation."
         -- H. H. Munro (Saki) (1870-1916)

"University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."
          -- Henry Kissinger (1923-)

 "Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater."
          -- Gail Godwin

"Hell is a half-filled auditorium."
          -- Robert Frost (1874-1963)

"This isn't right.  This isn't even wrong."
          -- Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), upon reading a young physicist's paper


Labels: , ,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Highly unlikely

My sons recently attended a Star Wars-themed birthday party.  They came home with "Certificates of Jedi Training".

One has a Darth Maul sticker that says "Great Effort!"; the other hasa Darth Vader sticker that says "Nice Job!"

This sort of positive reinforcement seems out of character from those two.


P.S. The internet is amazing.  I Googled for "Darth Vader thumbs up" -- and got several hits.  But of course.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

A world map of "What each country is the world leader in".


The one for the U.S. surprised me.


Labels: ,

Friday, October 25, 2013


"Always do right -- this will gratify some, and astonish the rest."
          -- Mark Twain (1835-1910)

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
          -- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

"I've learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel."
          -- Maya Angelou (1928-)

"Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down."
          -- Jimmy Durante

(Source, for all of these:


Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I can crank out poems

As I've mentioned a few times before, one of the nice things of being middle-aged is that you pretty much know what you're good at, what you're not -- and you're comfortable it.  You're open with your shortcomings -- but you don't worry about false humility about your strengths.

And I don't mean that you go around showing off or bragging.  But you're willing to talk about what you're good at.

For example, I really have no sense of direction -- no sense at all.  But I have pretty strong spacial skills (e.g. being able to tell what boxes will fit into the back of a truck).

So:  last night I was helping my daughter with her homework, which was: creating an additional verse to the Robert Frost poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".  It's the poem with the lines "My little horse must think it queer // To stop without a farmhouse near" -- and ends with "And miles to go before I sleep // And miles to go before I sleep".

The Lady had originally tried to help The Girl come up with a new verse that fit with the original poem -- but they both got stuck.  So The Lady handed The Girl off to me.  The preliminary lines they came up with were pretty close -- but the original poem had eight beats per line ("dah DAH dah DAH dah DAH DAH DAH"), whereas their attempts were missing a few beats.

I tried to not do the homework for The Girl, but instead guide her towards the solution -- but, man was it hard!  I came up with multiple replacement verses in my head, and a zillion rhymes for "-eep" -- but The Girl was having a hard time putting them together.

At that point I realized that -- hey! -- maybe being able to crank out poetry (or song lyrics) is a skill:  apparently not everyone (e.g. my wife, my daughter) can do it.  Basically, if I start with any word that defines the rhyme scheme, I can come up with a verse or two that makes some sort of narrative sense -- basically as fast as I can speak them..

Here's two examples:  I picked the word "quagmire", off the top of my head.  Then I made up a little poem, which came to me basically as fast as I could type it (and by the way -- if you're playing along at home, now's the time to **also** try to come up with four lines that rhyme with "quagmire".


I am in such a quagmire
Whenever I shop at Fred Meyer.
The shelves are full of much attire --
But nothing that sets me afire.

Similarly, "umbrella"

(Again, go ahead and make something up yourself.)

So, then:

You look so grand with your umbrella;
You look like such a dashing fella.
Shirt of red, and vest of yella --
But not as chic as Penn or Tella!

I mean, it's not genius -- but it's pretty good for totally off-the-top-of-the-head.

So, I'll go for a month or two without writing any new songs.  And then I'll have a month when I'm inspired by something arbitrary, and I'll crank out an entire song in a matter of minutes -- usually while riding the bus to or from work.

Yesterday, for example, I wrote all the but final verse of a song about why Archie is an idiot for choosing Veronica over Betty Cooper.  I'm pleased with it.

And the verse that we wrote?  The first line, which The Lady and The Girl came up with, was "Across the sky the clouds creep" -- which was pretty close -- but "Across the sky the clouds do creep" works better.

The second line was -- with prompting from me -- "The bushes look like fluffy sheep".  That is, they're white and fluffy, eh?

The third line is supposed to have a different rhyme.  I think The Girl came up with (by herself!) "At home my mother waits for me".

And then we had a long, drawn-out process where I tried to get the girl to come up with a rhyme for "-eep" -- which also made sense with the rest of the verse.  "Peep"?  "Cheap?"  "Leap?"

Lots of choices, most of them would work.  But we ended up choosing "weep", since it's an emotional reaction and it made sense in relation to someone waiting anxiously for you.  More prodding to get The Girl to craft it into a line.  I think The Girl got to "And when I get home she weeps" -- which breaks the rhythmSo after additional nudging, we added "will", just to use up an extra syllable:  "And when I get home she will weep".

Decent enough.  :)


(10/27/13 - UPDATE --  I e-mailed a few family and friends, with a "challenge" of cranking out some rhymes.   Everybody did well:  it seems that the ability to crank out poetry is not as rare as I thought.  Fair enough.

But I'm still keeping the blog entry.)  :)

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 21, 2013

Various music recommendations

Old Roommate asked me for some music recommendations.  He also suggested that my responses might make a good blog entry.  And he's right.

I'm rapidly finding that my tastes aren't **everybody's** tastes.  So, just because I like this stuff doesn't mean that you will.

Here's what's on my recent playlist (so to speak) -- plus a few things that I like, but haven't listened to for a while.  In stream-of-consciousness order:

For some reason, female solo acts have been the "new bands" that I've been listening to.

Lisa Mitchell (song "Coin Laundry")

Jem (Welsh singer-songwriter) (song "They" and "Just a Ride")

Regina Spektor ("Fidelity", "Eet", "Better")

A lot of Aimee Mann's stuff -- but not all of it.

Material Issue is one of my favorite bands (1990s). Sadly, the singer/songwriter/guitarist guy killed himself after the fourth(?) major label album; so, that was that.

Guided By Voices no longer exists (1990s?) -- but they did a lot of quirky, catchy, lo-fi short little songs.

The Outfield (late '80s?) ("Since You've Been Gone", plus others you'll probably recognize from the radio)

Rush (Canadian; not for everyone) ("Tom Sawyer", "Temple of Syrinx")

Spiderbait is an Australian band (3 piece); sometimes the guy sings, sometimes the lady sings; they cover lots of different styles ("Black Betty", "F**ken Awesome")

The Ting-Tings (duo) ("That's not My Name", "Shut up and Let Me Go")

The Grates (Australian 3 piece, no bassist) ("19-20-20", "Trampoline", their breakthrough hit "The Message") (I only like their first two albums)

Operator Please (Australian, all were in high school when they did their breakthrough album) ("Just a Song About Ping-Pong")



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Remarkably robust animal

I was falling down the many-branching rabbit hole of Wikipedia, and discovered this funny little creature -- the tardigrade. Six or eight legs (depending on the species), about the size of a flea -- and remarkably resiliant.

It can survive being boiled, or chilled down to one degree above absolute zero.  It can survive the vacuum of space -- and also over a thousand times atmospheric pressure.  Radiation, toxins... 



Labels: ,

Saturday, October 19, 2013


"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."
          -- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

(Ed note: However, I personally have no need for inconvenience **or** adventure. --GG)

 "Opportunities multiply as they are seized."
          -- Sun Tzu

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
          -- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

(Source, for all:


Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review of Star Trek into Darkness

I know it's come and gone through the theatres -- but The Lady and I rarely see movies on the big screen -- except for ones that are aimed at gradeschoolers.

But, my sister-in-law is a big Star Trek fan, so (of course!) she had Star Trek:  Into Darkness on DVD.

Borrowed it a few days ago, and watched it last night.

Ayep!  Good movie.  Starts off quick.

There are some parallels to Star Trek II:  Wrath of Khan that I'm sure were intentional -- but I thought it was a little cheesy.  Not horribly so -- but right on the cusp of being **too** cheesy.

Umm -- actually, not much to say.  Good popcorn movie.  Worth watching once -- esp. if you're in to Star Trek.  But I'm unlikely to watch it again -- as opposed to some movies like Stranger than Fiction, where I've re-watched several scenes many, many times.


Labels: ,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A coworker gave me worms

After wanting one for about eight years, I finally spring for a tumbling composter (Aldi had them on sale).

Even though worms aren't necessary for proper composting, I thought it might help the process.  But the local mega-hardware store wants $28 for 500 worms -- and I don't need 500 worms -- just a handful, and they will grow and multiply.

I sent around an e-mail at work to all the people I chat with, no one had any composting worms for me.  I wanted the hearty, red worms -- not the generic garden earthworms.

But then!  A co-worker who I rarely talk to (and thus, I didn't include in my e-mail) offered me some from her "worm farm" tower.  Brought it in today, and I took 'em home.

Happy little fellers.  They seem contented in their new home.


Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Learn new things

(Something my paternal grandfather would have said.)

"Try to learn something about everything and everything about something."
          -- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
          -- Mark Twain (1835-1910)

(Ed. note:  Nothin' wrong with schooling.  But nothin' wrong with learning off yer own gumption, neither.  --GG)

 "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
          -- Mark Twain (1835-1910)

"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."
          -- Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)

(Source for all of these:


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On writing

"I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better."
          -- A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book - I'll waste no time reading it."
          -- Moses Hadas (1900-1966)

"Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure."
          -- Oliver Herford (1863-1935)

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them."
          -- Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)

"Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers."
          -- T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

"Write drunk; edit sober."
          -- Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

(Ed. note:  figuratively speaking.  --GG)

Source for all of these:


Labels: , ,

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mac and supercomputing quote

When Seymour [Cray] was told that Apple bought a Cray to design the next Mac, he retorted:

“I just bought a Mac to help me design the next Cray.”

(Source: )

Two more (plus a different interpretation of the above), different source:

"If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use? Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens?"
          --Seymour Cray (1925-1996), father of supercomputing

"#3 pencils and quadrille pads."
          -- Seymour Cray (1925-1996) when asked what CAD tools he used to design the Cray I supercomputer; he also recommended using the back side of the pages so that the grid lines were not so dominant.

"Interesting - I use a Mac to help me design the next Cray."
          -- Seymour Cray (1925-1996) when he was told that Apple Inc. had recently bought a Cray supercomputer to help them design the next Mac.



Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It is OK to quit

I've immodestly tagged this blog entry as "wisdom", as it's something I've figured out during my forty-plus years of existence:

If you're undertaking a task that takes up a lot of time and effort, are you staying with it because you (a) enjoy the process, (b) really want the outcome, or (c) just because you started it, so you feel you can't quit.

As a middle-aged person, I've come to realize that "a" and "b" make sense -- but "c" typically isn't worth it.

As an example:  you've invested hundreds of hours on a carving a huge sculpture.  If you enjoy the process of carving, then it's "a":  keep going.  If you're tired of carving -- but you think the final product will be really great (or:  it's on commission, and you need the money) -- then it's "b":  it's about the outcome.

But, "c":  it sucks, and you don't care about the outcome any more -- but you hate to be a Quitter?  Eh.  Cut your losses.  Life is short, and you only get a certain number of hours.  Go do something better with your time -- or at least re-frame the project so that you can salvage something useful out of what you've done thus far.

I remember quitting the wrestling team in 9th grade, about three weeks into the practice season, because it was taking up SOOO much time and I just wasn't enjoying it. The coach said that I should "stick it out" at least through that season, and I'd regret it if I quit. Nope! I quit, never looked back, and NEVER regretted it.

I intended the above as a guideline for hobbies -- but it would also work for occupations

BTW -- "b:  the outcome is important" includes "helping other people".  For example, if you're volunteering at a soup kitchen and you find it boring -- but you think the work you're doing is important -- then yeah, keep on going.

Finally:  the image a the top of this post?  A planing stop.  Bad pun.



Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Saving the earth one banana at a time

For whatever reason, my 25-floor office building doesn't have a recycling program. So whenever I have a can of soft drink, I carry it down to the street during a break and toss it in of the city's recycling bin (which is paired, on the street, with a garbage can).

I realize that saving my cans is a little OCD -- but I figure it's good for the environment, and it doesn't take much extra effort.

A few days ago I took this concern for the environment to the next level:  I have a stash of plastic containers at work.  Whenever I -- or my co-workers! -- have fruit peelings or cores, I take them home.  Most of the things get composted (blue lid); the ones that the chickens like (e.g. apple cores) go to the chickens.

As with recycling, it's good for the environment -- and it doesn't take much extra effort.


Labels: , , ,

Composting from work

My environmentalism has reached a new level.

For the last few months I'd been troubled whenever I walked past a waste bin at co-workers' desks and seen apple cores and banana peels.  It seemed like a waste.

So, each day I now bring in two plastic containers.  The smaller one is for apple cores and pieces of tomato -- for the chickens.  The larger one is for orange peels and banana peels -- for the compost.

My co-workers now "donate" their food waste to me, and I take it home every day.  I'm going through a banana phase, so most days I eat 3-5 bananas -- and a co-worker who is a weightlifter eats 3-5 apples a day.  So, between the two of us we're generating a decent volume.

UPDATE:  This has been so successful that I've had to upgrade my sizes:  the "compost" container is now a red plastic cookie "tin", and the "chicken" container is the blue-lidded one in the photo.  

UPDATE #2:  Ah!  I **already** posted a blog entry about this.  Ah well.


Labels: , , , ,