Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

Movie review of The Adjustment Bureau

I watched The Adjustment Bureau tonight on DVD, along with my teenage daugther.

It was good; we both liked it. 

A politician meets a woman by accident, then runs into her a few years later, and they hit it off.  But agents of a secret agency interfere to keep them apart.

Some good lines.  Well-made, engrossing and entertaining. 

Not so amazing that I'll watch it over and over again -- nor are there any scenes that I'll skip to, just to re-see.  But I'm very pleased that I saw it once.  Totally recommend.



Vacation bliss

One of the things I enjoy about being on vacation is that I eventually lose track of what day it is.

Apparently, it's Friday.  But I thought it was Saturday.

It's all the same, really...

Been doing some more woodworking -- plus sold a nylon-string acoustic guitar through Gumtree (I hadn't played it in years).  About to watch a DVD with the daughter:  The Adjustment Bureau.  I've already seen the special features:  looks like it'll be a pretty good movie.


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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Bandname Prefix

This blog entry is more "PG-13" than I usually do...

Yesterday at Christmas lunch I was seated at the "kids' table" (a long story), next two my high school-aged nephews (my in-laws, I suppose).  One of them said something about prawns (we were having shrimp cocktails), and I noted that "Sex" could be added to a lot of words to make a good band name:  e.g. "The Sex Prawns".

I got to thinking about this, and came up with a pretty decent list.  I've tried to retain only the ludicrous ones, and omit the ones that could actually be "a thing" -- e.g. Sex Psychologist.

However, I have retained a few that are in that in-between-realm of "initially ludicrous -- but actually plausible" (e.g. "The Sex Pyjamas").

I was pretty stream-of-consciousness over this.  I've tried to group them by theme.

I also realized that if I use the word "sox" a bazillion times in a single blog entry, I'd get put on the wrong sort of search engine results.  So, I'm using the word "Sox", instead.

Grouped approximately by theme, here are some potential band names:

-The Sox Curtains

-The Sox Bagels

-The Sox Waffles

-The Sox Lightbulbs

-The Sox Tacos
-The Sox Eggplants

-The Sox Coasters
-The Sox Mushrooms
-The Sox Tractors
-The Sox Forklifts
-The Sox Pavement
-The Sox Gravel

-The Sox Painters
-The Sox Carpenters
-The Sox Historians
-The Sox Boxers
-The Sox Boxes

The Sox Trumpets
-The Sox Tubas
-The Sox Fiddles
-The Sox Cowbells
-The Sox Tunas
-The Sox Flounders
-The Sox Squids
-The Sox Flounders
-The Sox Eagles
-The Sox Guppies
-The Sox Bottles
-Sox Cargo
-Sox Suitcase
-Sox Trolley
-The Sox Mountains
-The Sox Rivers
-Sox Clouds
-Sox Handles
-Sox Suitcase
-Sox Suitcase
-Sox Luggage
-Sox Lumber
-The Sox Lumberjacks
-The Sox Loggers
-The Sox Collectors
-The Sox Farmers
-The Sox Ranchers
-The Sox Cowboys
-The Sox Hashtags
-The Sox Hankies
-The Sox Ankles
-Sox Flamingo
-The Sox Penguins
-The Sox Pandas
-The Sox Pianos
-Sox Mongoose
-The Sox Weasels
-The Sox Ferrets
-The Sox Kettles
-The Sox Cookers
-The Sox Blenders
-The Sox Tomatoes
-The Sox Potatoes

-The Sox Riddles

-The Sox Routers

-The Sox Modems

-The Sox Mainframe

-The Sox Protocols

-The Sox Computers

-The Sox Puzzles

-The Sox Crosswords

-Sox Centrifuge
-Sox Walrus
-Sox Cockroach

-The Sox Archers
-The Sox Clowns

-The Sox Chisels

-The Sox Hammers

-Sox Hammer

-Sox Micrometer

-Sox Gauge

-Sox Vice

-Sox Bandsaw

-The Sox Spiders
-The Sox Beetles
-The Sox Cobwebs
-The Sox Horses
-The Sox Walrus

-Sox Banshee

-The Sox Ghosts

-Sox Pickaxe

-The Sox Shovels

-The Sox Parrots

-The Sox Budgies

-Sox Budget

-Sox Accountant

-The Sox Archeologists

-Sox Debit

-The Sox Pencils

You can actually do this "adjective + noun" thing with a lot of semi-random word pairings.  I suspect a lot of bands actually do this -- e.g.

-The Velvet Underground
-Smashing Pumpkins
-Velvet Revolver


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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Best vacation EVER

I'm doing well: best vacation ever...!!!

Similar to professional chefs (well: I imagine) who have several dishes going in parallel -- I have four(?) projects that I'm hoping will all get completed by the end of my two-week vacation.

I putter along with one, until I reach a stopping point (usually gluing or applying an oil-based finish), then let it "rest" overnight as I turn to the next one.

The projects are:

  1. Making substantial progress on my mini-drumkit in a suitcase.  I've been working on this during most weekends for the last month or two (would have to check the date-stamps on the photos I've been taking).  Lots of minor components:  as mentioned above, when one needs gluing or oiling, that's the stopping point for that specific component -- so I turn to another.
  2. Making a stool out of a wooden seat that I got from a co-workers wife, plus some thick branches that I've been saving for about five years, for just such a project!
  3. Making a stool-slash-endtable out of a short stump or piling (the local style of architecture would raise houses up on "stumps" -- basically pilings -- like this -- but made of wood.  The total length is about the width of an office chair -- so, pretty short, so I'm having to engineer a solution.
  4. Recording a song that I wrote a few weeks ago.  It'll be the first song that I've recorded that has me playing actual drums -- rather than using a programmed drum machine, or just foregoing drums. 
  5. I picked up (used; online) two wooden boxes that will go under my desk at work to hold some of my "things" (e.g. I have a spare change of clothes -- just in case I totally spill; also a towel (Hitchiker's Guide); also a pillow and a blanket...).  I'm patching some holes, oiling them, and doing a mod to the bottom of the larger one.
  6. Miscellaneous lathe work:  two weekends ago my next-door brother in law (the mechanically-minded one) repaired my lathe (an easy fix; duh) -- so I've been having a great time making various pieces of wood cylindrical.  It's full of micro-reinforcements (e.g. seeing the shavings fly off; continually changing the shape of the workpiece) that makes it inherently enjoyable to me (but YMMV).  Lovin' it; not yet tired of it. 
  7. Creating an auger-ing jig for stool-making, to control the angle of the hole that I bore in the seat (the legs are then mounted in the holes). 
  8. Planted some date pits (hoping they will sprout); planted a sprouted avocado pit in a large pot; and have suspended another avocado pit, and also a mango pit (seed?) in water to try to sprout them.
  9. Have re-ground a skew chisel blade (picked it up at some garage sale, perhaps a year ago?) and tang, and will probably turn a handle and mount the blade.
  10. Finally finished sharpening the hewing hatchet that I modded from a "regular" (symmetrical) hatchet. 

Regarding the lathe:  having a functioning lathe now opens the world of possibilities for making stools.  Before, I could cut a square or rectangular tenon on the end of a stool leg, then chisel a corresponding mortice in the seat -- but, that's a pain.

Whereas:  with a lathe, as long as the leg is short enough to fit in the lathe (not sure about tall stools...), you turn a round tenon, and then just drill a hole in the seat:  easy!

Anyhow:  grand times; making progress on all of them; and will have at least some things to show for the vacation.   :)

At some point, I'll post photos and create blog entries on most or all of these...   ;)


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Book recommendation about book on introverts

I haven't quite finished reading this book -- but I was inspired to recommend it anyhow.  It's called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.

Its focus is on introverts, and that it's okay -- even **good** -- to be an introvert. But, of course, to discuss introverts it has to compare and contrast them to extroverts.

Basically (my interpretation/summary):
  • Introverts "like" people just fine -- but they find that interacting with people "uses up" energy; whereas extroverts are recharged by social interactions (this is one of the key diagnostic points).
  • Extroverts tend to have "gangs" of friends, and like throwing big dinner parties and get-togethers and engaging in light chit-chat; introverts tend to have one or two close friends, and prefer to get togther in groups of two or three, where they tend to discuss things more deeply (whether the topics are personal or intellectual).

  • Introverts tend to have difficulties "pushing forward" their views in group ssituations, so their often get overlooked. Which is a shame, because they often have good ideas and keen insights -- in part because they tend to be meticulous, methodical, and well-researched rather than jumping to conclusions.  Because of their tendency to be quiet, rather than the "center of attention", they tend to make keen insights.

  • Introverts that feel strongly about things (e.g. activists, crusaders) are often able to put on a bold face and meet-and-greet, make speeches, etc. "in the name of the cause" -- although they find this draining and then have to go "recharge" for a few hours.

I'm about 80% introvert, I think: my main interests (woodworking; writing and recording songs) are pretty solitary, and I'm very happy with my own company. But I'm very much able to "chat up" sales clerks and etc., and (possibly due to teaching classes while in graduate school) don't have a problem with speaking in public or "cold calling" people. But mostly I prefer to be on my own.

I found the book to be a reasonably engaging read (and have noted a fair number of good quotes) -- although for me it wasn't a "plow through it in three days straight" kind of book: I keep getting sidetracked by recording magazines and etc. ;)


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Saturday, December 16, 2017

The world is my oyster

So:  today is the first day of two weeks' vacation:  I return to work after New Year's Day.  The horizon stretches before me...

I have two weeks -- and no particular commitments.  So, one way or another, I'll get "creative things" done.  It's just a matter of in which realm:  woodworking, or recording some songs.

My brother in law fixed my woodworking lathe for me, so I can now make cylindrical things.  So I might make my first, simple footstool:  just a plank plus four cylindrical legs, which I'll turn from some of my "found"/"rescued" wood.

Or, I could try to finish my "micro drumkit" that I've been working on during weekends for the last month or so:  a fully-functional drumkit that fits into a small "flight attendant"-sized rolling suitcase.

Or, maybe turn some other things on the lathe -- like some drumsticks made out of exotic wood.

If I make a bunch of drumsticks, or a bunch of stools, it's likely that I'll start to give them away.  My paternal grandfather used to enjoy making things out of wood -- but then would end up giving away most of the items, because the interesting bit is the designing and executing (the making).  Once you've made them -- well, how many cutting boards, footstools, and etc. do you really need...?   ;)  So I suspect I'll be the same way.

I've been meaning to record a song that I wrote a few weeks ago, about people going back to college, taking up exercising, and etc., in an effort to make their lives better.  Plus, a few nights ago I finally sat down and noodled around on the electric guitar -- and came up with a chord sequence that would make a good song (energetic, but slightly loose and sloppy).

I'm planning to do my first recording with real drums:  all of my existing recordings either use a drum machine, or are drum-less.  So first I need to figure out which is my preferred pair of room mics for drums (my inexpensive USB recording interface only has two inputs), then record both drum tracks for the two songs in parallel (i.e. "in the same session"), and then go back and forth between the other tracks for the pair of songs.

The recording process keeps getting delayed because we've been having nice weather, so on weekends I keep thinking, "Well, I'll do woodworking during the day, with the natural light, and do recording at night."  But by the time of nightfall, then having dinner, and doing things with the kids, and then checking e-mail -- well, it's time for bed!  ;)

Also, I have some yardwork types of tasks that I could do this week:  maybe finish tidying that pile of bricks at the end of the yard, and cut up some fallen branches for firewood.  Maybe pick up the various piles of miscellaneous (e.g. stashes of "found" wood) and consolidating them somewhere.

In the end, it'll be a balance between "going whichever way my mood takes me" and "being careful to NOT start 'yet another project', before finishing the ones I'm already working on".

And:  the family will probably catch a few movies.  For fun, we might try to catch two movies in a single day.

Regardless:  as long as I keep busy doing things that I like to do -- that's a well-spent vacation.  :)


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tuning a cowbell for your drumkit

I did this about a month ago, but KH, my musical e-buddy, suggested that I share it more widely.

I was at my local animal feed, etc. store, buying some bags of chicken feed (laying mash?), and I noticed that they sold cowbells -- like, actual "clank-clank, wandering-around-in-the-field" cowbells.  I'm always on the lookout for inexpensive cowbells for my drum kit, so I picked it up.

About four weeks ago I -- with difficulty -- pried out the clapper from inside the cowbell.  I managed to get a smaller-sized bolt cutter down in there and made some substantial nicks; then I bent it back and forth with pliers until the weak part bent, and then I bent that segment back until I could get out of the loop that was welded into the inside bottom of the cowbell.

However:  once the clapper was removed, I discovered that the cowbell was too "pingy" and sharp-sounding when I hit it with a drumstick.  I wanted to dull it down.

My solution was to melt some beeswax in a clean glass jar (salsa, with the label removed) in an old toaster oven that I have in the shop.  Then I grabbed the rim of the jar with pliers, and poured a little  melted beeswax into the bottom of the cowbell, then gently swirled the beeswax along the inside bottom of the cowbell (like brandy in a brandy snifter):  the beeswax cooled, leaving a layer of beeswax along the bottom one-third or so of the interior.

I repeated this perhaps five times, building up the layers, and striking it with a drumstick between applications, until it had the tone that I wanted.

If I had deadened the sound too much, I could've just heated the whole thing in the oven, open-end-down on a disposable aluminum pie tin, and started the process over.  I would've salvaged and re-used the beeswax, of course.

I have some somewhat-illustrative photos -- but they're on my cell phone and for some reason this PC (running a version of Linux) doesn't recognize my cell phone properly, so I can't extract my photos directly:  I have to use my laptop, then dump the pics on a USB flashdrive and carry them over.  So I don't do it on a regular basis, because it's inconvenient.

I'll probably carry the photos over in a week or so.

Anyhow:  just sharing a tip on how to tune and/or dampen a musical/percussion cowbell.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Electric guitar is like woodworking

Last night I played the electric guitar for the first time in maybe a month.  As always, once I started it was hard to stop -- except for (like always) I started somewhat late at night -- so I had to stop so I could go to bed (had to get up for work the next day).

I noodled around for a bit, but after a few minutes I ended up playing a chord sequence that I'm going to try to turn into a song:  it had good energy, and I could "hear" the drum beat that will accompany it.

As I was playing, I had the same emotion that I do when I'm doing woodworking.  And the process is the same:  whether I writing a song, then recording and mixing it, or sketching out some plans, then preparing the materials and assembling it -- it's still "making 'something' out of 'nothing'."

Love it.  If I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd spend about 80% of my time doing woodworking and doing music -- drifting back and forth depending on my mood that day, but also what I was in the middle of (e.g. if I was partway through recording a song, I'd probably do music that day).


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Monday, December 04, 2017

In defense of quirky hobbies and activities

Let's see if I can say this clearly and elegantly (note:  It ended up taking three edits):

I'm generally -- I hope -- a fairly even-tempered person.  But one of my (very few?) hot-buttons is people who react to someone's hobby or endeavor with "He/she must have a lot of time on his/her hands".

Note that this phrase is rarely used if it is obvious that (1) the output is being used to earn money (e.g. carving figurines for sale; sewing costumes for sale), or is done for instrumental purposes (e.g. building shelves for the storage room; making a table for the dining room).

Apparently, if the activity or endeavor is done to earn money, or to save money (i.e. "instead of buying it; cheaper to do it yourself; would cost too much to have someone do it properly, so you just do it yourself"), it's acceptable.

Here's why the "must have a lot of time on his/her hands" comment frosts my preserves:

-It's dismissive.  It strongly implies that the pursuit or activity has no value or merit, and the only thing lower than this pursuit or activity is sitting around, being bored.

-It demonstrates that the speaker has no passion, creativity, or thirst for knowledge.  (That is:  if pursuit or activity involves making a profit, well okay, it "makes sense".)

This rant was triggered by a dismissive (or, poorly-implemented attempt at humor) comment in response to my sending group e-mail about my spending a few evenings deciphering a wall hanging at work  that was written in Braille (over-simplified; close enough; blog entry here).

So:  this is in support of people who, for example

-Research local history
-Build things out of wood
-Make video shorts
-Build ships in bottles
-Engage in cosplay
-Play role-playing board games
-Take martial arts classes
-Practice hurdling
-Learn a foreign language, even if there's no immediate plan to travel there
-Write or record a song, or an album, or a book, or screenplay, with no hope of it being published
-Study a jungle tribe
-Examine subatomic particles
-Test the learning capacity of protozoa
-And etcetera

This "only because they have too much time" attitude negates the creative arts, modern implementations of traditional crafts, the sciences, and nearly all academic pursuits:  people who  do things, not because they can earn money, but because it is interesting (to them).

These people are engaging in these behaviors because (presumably) they are interesting and fulfilling to these people -- not because these people are "bored", "at loose ends" and "don't have anything else to do".

Because you know what bored people do?  They watch t.v.  Maybe read a magazine or newspaper. Maybe take a nap.

People may take up "hobby X" out of boredom:  but they either discover they enjoy it -- or they quit. 

Just because you aren't interested in a behavior -- and perhaps it would bore you -- does not mean that another person is doing it solely as an alternative to boredom.

To dismiss someone else's passions and interests as simply "a way to use up time" is somewhere amongst the realm of "close-minded" and "rude".

Ornamentation and creative expression are good things -- and I pity the people whose sensibilities are so austere that they go beyond "indifference" to actually being dismissive of these endeavors.  May they live in beige-colored dwellings with bare, bare walls.


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