Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Movie review of An Affair to Remember

Around mid-June, 2015, I watched An Affair to Remember. (It's now Sept. 16th as I write this, so I'm not quite sure.)

I've meant to see it since it was mentioned in Sleepless in Seattle. Picked it up inexpensively maybe half a year ago, but never got around to watching it. Finally watched it in mid-June (I think) -- and watched the final scene nearly every night for the following two or three weeks.

For those of you who don't know: a charming slacker (Cary Grant) is engaged to a rich lady, but while on a cruise ship he meets a fiesty lady (Deborah Kerr) who is engaged to a rich guy. They accidentally fall in love, but when the ship docks they go off with their respective fiances.

And then sad things happen. But, there's a happy ending (mostly).

A lot of good dialogue, and some pretty good scenes.

Rated “G” – although anyone younger than about 11yo might find it boring:  there's a lot of talk, and some implications about the difficult realities of being a grown-up and being in a relationship -- and then falling for someone else.

I'm glad I watched it. And the fact that I watched it over and over again indicates that I do indeed like it.



Mark Knopfler's guitars

Depends on how much you like guitars, or Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits.

A little slow-paced -- but, nice.



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cross-applied woodworking skills

My co-worker had been trying various solutions for removing the window glare from his computer monitors.  Early in this recent week -- maybe on Monday? -- another co-worker scavenged sheets of that paperboard honeycomb-cell packing sheets from a box in the hall (waiting to be recycled).

My co-worker gave me the basic concept, then left it to me to design and implement the specific solution.  My solution is below:  I used my hand-tool woodworking skills -- plus a box knife and a 30-60-90 triangle -- to create cross-lap joints to create a freestanding partition.

I would've liked to have had a trysquare and a marking gauge as well -- but, nope.

My co-worker likes the solution because it indeed eliminates the window glare.  **I** like it because it completely obscures me from the aisle:  I like the extra privacy.

However, it shows me how often I spin around in my chair and ask him questions (or bounce ideas off of him).  Every time I do this, I now face a brown wall:  so we have to stand up and discuss the idea, then sit back down.

Of course:  standing up from our chairs every once in a while is a good thing.

Our co-workers in the same pod liked the idea, so on Friday -- upon request --  I created a similar wall for them.

This mini-project turned out really well -- and also reinforced something I'd noticed about handtool woodworking:  with power tools, you use a tape measure a lot; with handtool woodworking, you tend to just fit one piece to the other, then cut to the line -- that is, no actual measuring.


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Thursday, June 25, 2015

TKD hooks

Tonight I gave a minor invention(?) of mine to my kids' Tae Kwon Do instructor.  It addresses a problem that I saw.

Prior to every Tae Kwon Do class, which takes place in the school gym, the instructor has hang up the class banner, which is used during their opening and closing ritual.  However, it's an awkward process:  the instructor has to lay the cord across the top of each of the blue padded things (which keeps kids from bashing into the vertical I-beams), then run the cords down to the stacked chairs and awkwardly tie the cords to the chair legs.

Not only is it awkward, but there are two other disadvantages:  he would prefer to use the other side of the gym -- but the chairs aren't stacked over there, so there's nothing to tie the banner to; and the cords are unsightly when they're running down at an angle.

The above is a snapshot of what the banner looks like with my little invention.  When I set it up, the whole thing took me about two minutes; no knots were needed; and the tails of the cords were hidden.

Here's a shot of my device.  Basically, they're just wooden hooks with some tie-off cleats on the front, some white felt on the insides (to prevent the paint on the I-beams from getting scuffed), and an additional hook on the back.
Note that I tried to match the wood grain across the two pieces -- particularly the "corner" piece. 

Here's another shot, but at a bit of an angle.

To me, this looks a lot like something my late (paternal) grandfather would've cooked up.

Here's a shot of the left-hand hook, in action.  Notice how I've lashed the cord to the cleat, then brought it around back and hooked it over the rear hook.  This keeps the rest of the cord out of the way, and also maintains tension on the cleat.

Here's a shot from a different angle, where you can see the cord hanging down the side of the blue padding.

Finally, here's what the tail end of the cord would look like without the hook in the back:  it would flop forwards, which would look ugly and also allow the cord to unwind from the cleat.

As usual, this was all done with hand tools:  a trysquare, handplane, some chisels, a backsaw, a bradawl (for making the location of the holes).  The exception was a power drill, for drilling the screw holes.

Pathetically, this project took me about two months to complete.  However, part of the delay was gluing the felt (I had to do it in stages, allowing about a day's drying time between stages), and the Danish oil also took a few days (due to drying time between coats).  Plus, I only worked on it during weekends -- and only a little bit each weekend.

But part of the delay was just spending time on other tasks.


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Songs about trees

I accidentally wrote two songs about... trees... last week. So maybe one of those will be next in the song-recording queue.

Both songs are about "No one ever talks to the trees" -- but one is directly about the topic, while the other is from the perspective of someone who sees a man walking down the city street and patting each tree.

"The man who talks to the trees" is basically me:  The block that has my office building is planted with trees.  For the last month or so, as I've walked from the train station to my building, I've tended to give a reassuring pat to each tree as I walk past, as well as say some sort of "hello".

However, I figure it's not **quite** OCD, because if I skip a tree I don't bother going back. Also, the last two trees in the series always get neglected, because I always cut right to enter my building: if it was truly OCD, I'd walk to the very end of the block, then double-back to my building.

I reckon.  :)


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Today I ran some errands during my lunch break, and on a whim I picked up some carrot cake and some pastries.  When I got back to the office, I sent around an e-mail saying I'd put some goodies out on the table near the 'fridges.

I checked the table about two hours later:  it was like a plague of locusts had been through.  I'm guesstimating that 20-30 people had some of the food -- which is fine.  But:  only one person thought to e-mail me to say "thanks".

The lesson learned:  

Don't do nice things because you're expecting gratitude: you'll be disappointed. Do nice things because it's good to do nice things. 

Which I'm fine with.  But it's an important distinction.


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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dressing like I'm old

During the warmer months, I wear walking shorts, a short-sleeve button-up shirt, and dress shoes.  I wear this to work, and also on errands.

I basically don't wear jeans any more:  because I'm lax about shaving, I figure I need to "dress up" a little, to compensate.

The exception is that if I'm doing yardwork or something in the shed, I'll wear my "shop clothes" to the hardware store, landscape supply store, or the pizza place -- because, eh.

However -- now that it's winter (down under!), I can "play dressup" a bit, without sweating like a monkey.  So, I've been wearing neckties for the last two weeks -- and last week I even wore a suit jacket at work!

I also have four or five hats that are pretty nifty -- but I don't wear them during the summer months (in the summer I wear a broad-brimmed sun hat).  So winter is the time to wear my groovy hats.

The above photo is what I wore on Thursday (June 18th).  My manager said I looked "natty":  I'm pretty sure I've never been called "natty".

And the photo to the left is what I wore today (Sunday; note the subtly different hat).  My outfit was originally just the charcoal-grey shirt and the green sweater -- plus black dress shoes and black slacks.  But, during our errands I ducked into a thrift store and picked up the red tie and the green tweed(?) jacket.  So I wore those around for the rest of the day.

The suit jacket is a little "granddad" -- but I'm OK with that.  I think it makes me look 55 -- although a very well-preserved 55 -- even though I'm in my 40s.

Different people have different modes of dressing.  For myself, I don't wear jeans and sneakers any more:  I felt like I could get away with that in my 20s -- but now I'm "dressing like a grown-up".

Or like a granddad.  Either way.  :)


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wisdom for the morning

The t.v. show How I Met Your Mother has an episode which is based around a saying of Ted's mother's:  "Nothing good ever happens after 2am."

I think I've developed my own variation on that:

-Don't make life-changing decisions at four in the morning.

-Don't do dubious (questionable?) things without first conferring with someone.

Sorry, I'm not at liberty to explain.  Unless you live in Eugene, Oregon.

Maybe someday.


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Monday, June 15, 2015

Lapping chisels at work

Like a lot of hobbyist woodworkers, I don't seem to get enough "shop time".  And, because I have a family (wife, kids), and because my shop doesn't have electricity (a long story), I'm basically limited to daylight hours, on the weekends.

And, when I do spend time in the shop, it's more interesting to build things than to perform tool maintenance.

Meanwhile, at work -- I have an "office job" -- we're required to clock out for lunch for at least 30 minutes every day.  Sometimes I go for a walk; sometimes I run errands.  Sometimes I wander off to the library, for lack of anything better to do.

Some co-workers check e-mail and surf the web (mostly news sites) -- but because I spend all day sitting and typing, I really don't want to spend my lunch break... sitting and typing.

So:  sometime in late April -- I forgot to record the date -- I started lapping chisels during my lunch break.  "Lapping" basically means "to flatten":  to get chisels (and handplane blades) truly sharp, they need to be super-flat on the back.  It's also good to have the back of chisels flat because the chisel back serves as a reference surface when paring.

I have a bunch of old chisels that I bought at garage sales, and most of them need "tuning up" in this way -- so that I can sharpen them properly.

It is now mid-June, and earlier this week was my ninth time lapping chisels at work:  this works out to an average of once a week.  Although, technically, two of the days were sharpening kitchen knifes for a co-worker.  Also, I brought in a block plane that I got from my paternal grandfather -- so I'll probably lap the blade and the plane sole, as well.

Here's my kit, closed.  I keep this under my desk at work, next to my electric guitar and amplifier (because, you know -- just in case).

Here's the kit, open.  The coarse-grit Japanese waterstone goes in the gap along the back:  in this photo I've already taken it out of the box.

The green masking tape lets me mark how far back along the blade I want to flatten:  there's no need to flatten it all the way back to the handle.  Also, once I've finished lapping the chisel, I wrap the tip in masking tape so I can take it home safely.

The plastic sandwich bag, at the left end of the toolbox, has a small rag that's saturated with baby oil:  I use this to wipe down the chisels after I'm done, to prevent rust (the Japanese stones use water; wet chisels lead to rust).

Here's a picture of my set-up, in the Men's room on my floor.  It's between the two sinks -- which is handy, since the Japanese stone requires a drizzle of water now and again.

At this point, most of the guys on my floor know that I do this:  they walk in to use the bathroom, and see me with my toolkit.  Even the Grand High Director has seen me do this.  We had a nice little chat out of this:  it seems that he was a Carpenter's Assistant in his youth...

This is a closer look at my setup:  usually I have the stone running left-to-right, and that's how I run my chisels.   I use the white rag to wipe the slurry off the chisel every once in a while, to see how I'm doing.

Here's kind of an "action shot".  However, my other hand is holding the camera:  normally I would have the fingertips of my right hand where I've drawn the red dot.  I would drag the chisel left and right along the stone.

At the end of my session I flatten my Japanese stone against a reference tile, which I rescued from a construction dumpster near where I park my car by the train station.

Then I rinse off the stone, and the reference tile, in the sink on the left; dry everything off; pack everything away; and put my little "kit" back under my desk.

Cleaning up my chisels is not a very exciting thing to do during my lunch break.  But, it's kind of "zen" to do it for a half hour or so.  And it lets me do some "tool maintenance" without eating into my "real" shop time.


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Friday, June 12, 2015

Beard experiment

About two weeks ago, one of my male colleagues commented that he was only shaving once a week.  The topic eventually turned to how long it would take me to re-grow a beard.  I am empirically-minded, so...

(Click to enlarge, if you like.)

(Blogspot shows the photos as centered in the preview -- but left-justified when it's posted as a blog entry.  Eh.)

Day 0 (6pm; just shaved)

Day 1 (9am)

Day 2 (7am)

Day 4 (8am; whoops! Missed Day 3)

Day 5 (8am)

Day 6 (8am)

Day 7 (noon)

Day 8 (11am)

Day 9 (11am)

Day 10 (9am)

Day 13 (7am; eh -- that's enough)

I had intended to keep the time of day, my shirt color, and the background all consistent throughout each shot -- but that didn't happen.

It's hard to tell from the photos, but "in person" I think that Day 7 was passably "a beard" -- especially if I had shaved my neck, to enhance the contrast.

Special thanks to The Girl for taking all but two of the photos (and thanks to Stan, my co-worker, for the two that were at work).


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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Not really OCD

I freely admit that I'm **adjacent** to being OCD, and/or a hoarder.  But every now and again I give myself little tests, just to see.

I'm typing up some of my backlog for my "Tools that I've purchased" list, and I've wilfully omitted three items.  So:  if I ever have a need to calculate how much a year I've spent on tools -- or are seeking when I bought (or what price I paid for) one of these tools -- I will not know!!!

Bwah hah hah hah hah!!!

So, yeah -- breaking the chain.


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Mindfulness and wonder

From the spoken intro to to Abney Park song “The Wake”:

My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. 

He says that only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant, total amazement.

(Ah! Originally from the movie Joe Versus the Volcano (1990).)


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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

All the world has a haiku

One of my mutant abilities is to detect potential song lyrics or poems, and to crank out halfway-decent poems at a moment's notice.

A co-worker sent this notice around: 
The toaster in the kitchen has sadly toasted its last piece of toast. I found its cord melted into a distinctly flat shape, which lead me to believe that it may fallen victim to the sandwich press. I had pressed a delicious sandwich of my own seconds before I discovered the damage and the now-flattened cord was still hot at the time. So there is a very slight possibility that it was me who wrecked the toaster. I will go down and see if I can get another one at lunch and we will hopefully be equipped for toasting by 1:15. 

I will also try to reposition things so that stray cords don’t end up in the sandwich press again. Apologies for any inconvenience.

I detected in the above, a haiku:

The toaster in the
kitchen has sadly toasted
its last piece of toast. 

I particularly like that the meaning of "sadly" is ambiguous:  does it mean that it is too bad that this was the last piece of toast?  Or was the toaster aware this this was its final piece of toast -- and was sad about it, as it was toasting?

I e-mailed my haiku to my co-worker, who e-mailed back that he'd had to Google what a "haiku" was.

I replied that maybe it's a Seattle thing -- lots of Japanese-Americans; we did a lot of haikus during poetry units during school.

I also sent him this:

See Peter Smithers
He Googles what “haiku” means: 
Ah! Enlightenment.


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