Winter Workout

Well winter is here. One morning last week we had our first snow flurry of the year to the absolute delight of the kids and the mild consternation or utter indifference of everyone else. I work out regularly with weights and yoga-like exercises, but on the days I don’t do that I like to do some kind of aerobic (i.e. speed-oriented) thing, which is rollerblading or biking most of the year. About a month ago when it got too dark to go rollerblading after work, I switched to night biking, a mode of transport that has a light and a brake. Now it’s too cold out to do even that. So I need an indoor aerobic activity to see me thru until the spring.

Jeannie has a NordicTrack cross-country skiing machine that she’s been using happily for years. Just a few weeks ago when the clocks shifted an hour she started getting up early in the morning and doing a few kilometers on it before everyone else gets up for school and work. I must say I am really impressed at this; it’s something I could never do. She says it’s better than working out after the kids go to bed, which is what I usually do, and can indeed be harsh at the end of a long day.

I have not used the Nordic Track all this time, but last week I finally decided to give it a shot. I’ve never really liked the idea of working out on a treadmill, stationary bike or anything like that, because it makes you feel like a droid, in an existential post-modern post-industrial post-ironic kind of way. Meh! I’ve always thought it would be cool to hook an exercise machine up to some kind of VR or videogame to provide some fun and adventure, or at least some scenery. Ah well, I can listen to music I suppose.

Once I tried the NordicTrack I remembered another reason why I don’t use it. I’d tried it once when it was new, only to realize that it was not designed for really tall people (as is the case with so many things). It was simply not high enough or long enough for me to use properly. The pad you’re supposed to lean against was too low for proper balance, and I kept kicking the back of the machine. So it was time to start hacking! It turns out the pad is on arm that can swing up and forward when it’s time to put the machine away. I was able to make a shim and jam it in under the arm, so that it would stay in a semi-deployed position, which made enough of a difference that I could use it comfortably.

And now, having used it a couple of times, I can say it’s a pretty good workout. I can go 5 kilometers in 25 minutes or so, which is comparable to what I do on real skates, and with a similar level of effort. So it looks though it will do to see me thru the winter. Now I just have to find the right music to work out to.

Turtle In a Tree

I recently folded one of my Snapping Turtles for the Origami USA annual Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History. Every year the origami society does a holiday tree decorated with origami. This year the theme is Origami Around the Museum, which opens up a wide range of subjects. I dropped the model off there today at lunchtime. It’s exciting to see the tree coming together, and it’s also really nice to take a walk thru Central Park on a crisp fall day.

I’m also really happy with the way the Turtle came out. I folded it out of a sheet of golden-yellow Tant paper that I bought from Nicholas Terry’s Origami Shop last fall. I can’t say enough about how great this paper is for complex models. It comes in nice big sheets (35cm square) and is a good deal thicker and stronger than kami but much thinner and more workable than Wyndstone or Canson. For the style of model I design it’s great; foil or wet-folding are completely unnecessary. I also came up with a subtle but important improvement in folding the shell. At the end where the shell becomes 3-D, instead of doing simple crimps around the edge, I do a fold — I don’t know if there’s a name for it but I’m going to call it a sink-crimp and if you’re an origami person you’ll understand. It works great and locks the shell together really strongly.

This is as good a time as any to update you on the progress of my book. I’m in the middle of three diagrams now, for my Moose, for my Adirondack Chair and for my Elephant Mark II. Actually the first two of these are nearly done, up to the point where the model becomes 3-D. The Moose turned out to be pretty long and complicated at over 60 steps! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the steps get hard to draw as the model progresses, especially at the end. Alot of the time I work on the book late a night, and often I’m tired, so I’ll do something less hard but still productive like the beginning or middle of another model.

I feel like I’m falling a bit behind the pace I’m setting for myself, although it’s still pretty good, given how busy we’ve been this fall. I had hoped to have 8 to 10 models diagrammed by the end of the year; and I’m on track for 6 by the end of November, and 2 to 4 in a month is unlikely. I guess when this set of three is done I can go back and update some models already diagrammed into the new format for the book and that will speed things up compared to doing tons of new drawings.

An Answer

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

— Barack Obama, 11/4/2008

New Recording: Who Can Fool Me

The other night I finally put the finishing touches on my new song Who Can Fool Me. It’s been mostly done for a while, but I ended up doing a number of takes of the synth horn solo. In the end I think song turned out great. So enjoy!

While I was at it went back and made some newer mixes of a couple of my other songs, Fine Red Wine and The Nine. So enjoy some more!

And also I update some pages in my music site with new project notes, audio files, and lyrics.