Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Very small shacks and houses

For the last month or so -- off and on -- I've been dong YouTube searches for "tiny apartments", "micro apartments", and the like.  This probably indicates that I'm feeling frustrated with the clutter in our lives.

Here's a few that I liked, and wanted to share (and also gather into one place, for future reference).

These are the ones that are free-standing:  houses, shacks, and a houseboat.  I'll do the apartments in tomorrow's entry.

A caboose.  Pretty darned roomy, actually.  You could actually raise a small family in here, if you had to.

Living on a narrowboat on the canals in London.  Seems peaceful.  A little cluttered, though: hard to have any hobbies that need a desk, table, or workbench.

Small rectangular house on wheels.  I liked the full-sized kitchen on this one.  But it seems like your feet would always be cramped when using the desk:  they should've made it a little bit deeper.  The guy showing us around seems personable, too.

Small wooden house on a trailer.  This one is similar to the one above, but I like the design even better -- not sure why.  Maybe it's the closet and the stairs.

Note that the house itself doesn't really get shown until around 1:50.

Small two-story house in the woods.  I can actually see myself living in this one.  It has a fair amount of room -- simple but functional.  Maybe as a summer cottage.  I can also see Guitar Cousin and his wife building it, then retiring to it.

Converted toolshed.  By the same guy as above.  (But where does he cook?)  It doesn't get much simpler than this.

...except for this.  Tiny shack in the woods.  Note that you don't actually see the shack until about 4:10.

On one level, I appreciate the "tiny living" idea.  On the other hand, it would only work for people that do everything on their computer -- or at least have small hobbies.  If you're a video game programmer, or do jewelry making or model airplane building as a hobby, you can probably get by with a little 3 foot by 3 foot working zone.  But if you want to record a drum kit or do woodworking -- well, you probably need a bit more space.

Unless, of course, you rent or own additional space, off-site.


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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wood for America

Construction cousin's stepdad does woodworking -- a lot of jewelry-box-sized items.  When I was visiting the U.S. recently I told him I'd save a nice piece of wattle for him:  wattle is a local wood that has a lovely reddish-color, and isn't used commercially because it's too knotty, and the trees are too small, to get commerically-sustainable lumber out of it.

At least, that's what I figuire.

The first photo is two of the boards that I rough-prepped.  I handplaned them a bit, and sprayed them with alcohol just to show off the grain.  If you click on the photo you can get a closer look.

The second photo is of all the slabs I got from the short log.  I think it was from my brother-in-law's place (I'm actually writing this post a month later, and I don't remember offhand; but it's written on the slabs).

I'll let them season for a year or two, and bring them with me the next time I visit the U.S.


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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Molly Lewis is a good songwriter

This is a blog entry on Molly Lewis.  She's a good songwriter, and plays the ukelele (plus some other instruments).  She rose to prominence through an online songwriting contest called "Song Fu", in which songwriters had a week(?) to write, record, and submit a song based on certain criteria:  for example, "the song must be exactly 45 seconds long", or "the song must have a chorus of 'It All Makes Sense in the End' ".

Here's a few relevant YouTube videos:

Molly explaining how she ended up with the ukelele

This is a fan-made video for her song "I Pity the Fool", about the wisdom of Mr. T.

This is one of her "Song Fu" compositions, about dating, then breaking up with Wikipedia.

And finally, here's her cover of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face".

There's more:  she has a YouTube channel.


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Friday, February 14, 2014

Differing visions

On Friday, during her lunch break, a co-worker was looking at a real estate listing for a house she was thinking of buying as an investment property:  buy it, remodel it, sell it as a profit.

From memory, this is what it looked like:

Single story; open carport; laundry through the kitchen.  Note that in a lot of older (1960s and earlier) houses around here, the toilet room is separate to the sink-shower-bathtub room.

Her vision for remodelling was something like this:

Knock out the wall between the kitchen and laundry room, to make a larger kitchen; put a deck off the back of the kitchen; enclose the carport for additional living space; and put a carport in front of the old carport -- I forgot to draw that.

But -- that's not at all what **I** saw when I looked at it.  My first thought was what a single person who was waaaay into woodworking would do:

Enclose the carport -- for extra workshop space.  Make the former carport area your handtool space (smaller then the old living room), and link it to the laundry room (for the shop sink).  Use the old living room as your "power tool" room -- bandsaw, table saw, etc.  Put a door on the kitchen, to keep the sawdust out.  Eat your meals in the kitchen.  Use the larger of the "bedrooms" for your wood storage.  Use another bedroom as your "living room" -- you should be able to fit a t.v., sofa, and comfy chair in there.  And that's all you need.

My second vision is what a recording musician would want.  Again, one who lives alone:

The former carport is enclosed and merged with the former living room to create a "tracking room" where the instruments are recorded; probably have the drum kit in the center, guitar amps around the periphery of the room.  A few sofas and such in the room, so it can double as a living room or lounge: the components of a living room actually have fairly good acoustical properties.  The laundry room gets a double-thickness window and becomes an isolation booth for recording vocals or solo instruments -- although it would still retain its "laundry" functionality.  Meals can be eaten at the kitchen table, and the kitchen can serve as a breakroom and lounge.  A door is added to the kitchen, to isolate it from the tracking room (e.g. refrigerator hum, people talking while in the kitchen).  A door is also added to the hallway, to help acoustically isolate the other rooms from the tracking room.  The larger bedroom has a double-thickness window added (to allow visual contact with the performers), and becomes the control booth, with the mixing board, signal processing gear, playback and etc.  The middle bedroom is still a bedroom -- because this is someone's house.  And the top corner bedroom becomes a guest bedroom with four bunks, in case the band that's being recorded is from out of town.

Different eyes, different visions.  :)


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Humble brag

I heard the term ''humble brag'' on the t.v. show NCIS: LA.  It's when you complain about something, but really it's just a way of showing off:  on the t.v. show, it was something along the lines of "It's so annoying when I go to the gym, and even though I'm all sweaty and wearing ratty clothes, it's hard to finish my workout because people keep hitting on me."

So, here's mine:  I get clever ideas of interesting things to build, faster than I can build them.  And I keep writing songs faster than I can record them.

The implication is that I'm this genius, modern-day Leonardo DaVinci -- both mechanical and artistic (so is Guitar Cousin, BTW).

Many days while commuting to work on public transport, I design various things (in my notebook) I want to build out of wood.  It often takes me a few days to work out the details of the design -- but usually less than a week.

But, I only get two afternoons during the weekend of "shop time".  So I end up falling behind.

Last week, for example, I got an idea for a wooden tool tote (an open-topped toolbox).  So I started to build it over the weekend.  But then this week I came up with an idea for a wooden, stringed folk instrument.  So now I want to build that as well.

Similarly, I come up with a new song idea about once a month.  Usually I knock out the lyrics in a day, and have a pretty good sense of the arrangement and instrumentation as well.  So, all I need to do is record it. 

But at the moment I'm more in the mood to build things out of wood than to record songs.  Which is fine.  But now I have a lovely backlog of songs that I really need to just sit down and record.

The solution, of course, is to win the multi-million-dollar lottery, drop back to 40% time at work, and stay home doing interesting, creatively productive things the other three days.

I'll see what I can do about that.  :)

(Note:  the photo of the workshop isn't mine; nice, though.  It's from the Wikpedia page on "workshops".)


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