Worse Computer

So my computer repair project took a turn to the strange. When we last checked in with the little adventure, I had recovered and backed up all my data and bought a replacement 160 BG hard drive. Well, then I formatted the drive using an external drive bay, on my Mac running Windows. I made 2 partitions, one at 40GB for the system and another at 120 for my data. I opened my laptop, which is a big pain, and pulled the old drive and put in the new one. I ran Ghost to recover the system partition, but I failed with a mysterious “disk geometry error”.  We tried a few things, but ultimately we reformatted the drive in the laptop using an XP install CD. From there were able to restore the C drive from Ghost and the data on the D drive from the recovered files. The weird thing was, the size of the D partition somehow changed from 120 GB to 90 GB and the total size of the drive to 128 GB. Some part of the drive had become orphaned.

Throughout all this, Jeannie was helping me figure out how to proceed, with extraordinary patience. It was slow going, so we’ve been working our way thru HBO’s “Rome” while the computer was doing its thing. So, knowing at least we could recover the system, we wiped the drive clean and started over, but the same problem persisted. We figured there was a problem with the replacement drive, so I bought yet another replacement drive, this time a 250 GB one. We followed the same path. Formatted it from the Mac via a sled with a 40 and (this time) 210 GB partition, took apart the laptop to swap the drives, restored the C drive from Ghost, and watched it fail with that geometry error. We reformatted the drive in the laptop and again the size of the drive dropped down to 128 GB. Yeesh!

So we have determined that the problem is not with the drive but probably with the machine itself, maybe something to do with the drive controller. I’ve never encountered anything like this before and I don’t really know. So I’m giving up. I sunk a huge amount of time into it and at this point I have a working, if old and creaky, computer so that’s will have to do. Come the new year I will probably look to getting a new laptop. It is mostly likely to be a Mac, so this means I will be leaving Window behind, hopefully for a long time.

Origami Blast From the Past

This was from a couple of weeks ago, but I was just writing it when my computer turned bad. So here you go.

Many years ago (1994 I think), before I joined the Origami Society I attended one of their annual conventions. It was just for the day and mostly just saw the exhibition and hung around the common area. I hadn’t really done much origami in a number of years but I remembered that OUSA was based in NYC, and had always been curious about it. It turned out to be a really cool experience and I was amazed at how origami far origami design had progressed since the 80’s. In fact it was in the midst of a revolution that is still playing out today. One model I remember well for it’s artistic impact was a fossil, a lizard skeleton rendered as a precise but random-looking set of wrinkles and creases in a torn up old paper bag.

I decided to contribute a model to the annual collection. It was my dragon, one of my first successful origami designs among only a handful of models at the time. It used a modified blintzed frog base, a variation on the base John Montroll used for his Pegasus in Origami for the Enthusiast. I diagrammed it using pen and ink and drawing board over the course of a few months and submitted it to OUSA. It was a tumultuous year for them as the founders (Lillian Oppenheimer and Alice Gray) had recently died and there was a turnover in the leadership. In any event I never heard back from them.

Years later I found out it had been accepted and published in the 1995 Origami USA annual collection. I had tried to locate a copy for ages, but it was the one year of all the back issues that was sold out. Finally a couple of weeks ago, my friend Marc Kirshenbaum (who is on the OUSA publication committee) located an old copy and offered to me. Shortly after Thanksgiving I went over to his place to pick it up. Like I said Origami was undergoing a major design revolution, so it’s really interesting to see the combination of old and new styles in a collection from that time. It’s also really gratifying to see my early work along side established origami masters. So a great big thanks to Marc!

Marc also deserves credit and thanks for encouraging me to get serious and systematic about designing my own origami models. The year after I joined OUSA (2003 I think), I took a Monday class that he was teaching about design, and was inspired to invent a lizard. I realized then I had all the knowledge I needed, and I just had to go do it! It sparked the beginning of a creative streak which I am still mining for new ideas.

Bad Computer

Astute readers of this blog may have noticed a longer than usual interval since my last update, and concerned readers may be wondering why. Well I’ll tell you. The last few weeks have been pretty tumultuous. I’ve finished work of a bunch of projects, including home improvement, an update to my web site and a music flash app fro my friend Erik. (More on that later.) In completely other events, my company is undergoing a major restructuring, having laid off a whole bunch of people a week ago Thursday and moved a bunch of others, including yours truly, into new and different groups, which makes for fun and exciting time at the office these days. (More on that too later as the situation unfolds.) And lastly, as a concession to it being dark and cold out all the time, we’ve been playing Super Mario Galaxy and watching HBO’s “Rome” on DVD.

Last weekend was the first in months that we’ve had basically free with no major commitments or work to do. It was very nice and relaxing. Caught up on my rest, hung out with the kids and played legos, that sort of thing. I finally got back to my origami book and made good progress on diagramming my elephant. I updated my todo list with random tasks for the holiday break. One of them was to backup my computer, since I haven’t done that since the start of the semester.

And then, Sunday night I was settling down to work on music (I have a new song I’m working on called Earthbound – more on that later too.) and I rebooted my computer, and guess what, it wouldn’t boot. Turns out my hard drive chose that moment to turn bad.

So it’s taken me three days of downtime to recover all my work and order a replacement hard drive. Tonight I’ll be formatting the drive, putting it in my computer and restoring all my data. Fun fun fun. So that’s why it’s been almost two weeks!

Origami Site Update

I just completed a major revision to my Origami web site at www.zingorigami.com (also www.zingman.com/origami). Attentive readers of this blog will recall that I started on this endeavor way back in September. I had to get around to a bunch of other projects first, but I’m happy to have completed phase one of the operation.

I invented about ten new origami models this year, so the update was long overdue. Major features include reorganizing the collection of models into a series of pages according to a set of major categories. The index page now links into these pages and presents a comprehensive index of thumbnails. I also created a page of Adirondack Origami, to highlight the feature I did for Adirondack Life magazine earlier this year. Additionally I created a page for info about Origami commissions if you’re interested in having you own origami handmade by me the artist, and a page about my forthcoming book, mostly a placeholder for now.

The next step will be a new round of photographs. For many of the recent models I simply put up snapshots, but sometime over the winter I plan on folding exhibit level versions of all my models and doing a proper photo shoot of them. This will also be useful for the book.

Then phase three will be to make the pages served dynamically. I need to research some kind of lightweight CMS and template engine, or maybe make my own. That will be a pretty good project.

And in related news, my friend John has a new web site to showcase his origami: www.johnmontroll.com

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a really wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. First of all, we’ve been working really hard on home improvements, software development and whatnot, so it was good to have a few days off to rest and enjoy family and feasting. I really feel blessed this year just to have an opportunity to have some good family time and appreciate my loved ones.

My Mum and Dad came down from upstate NY for a few day’s visit. They brought with them a dining room table and chairs, which came from my uncle, who inherited my grandmother’s dining room set. For years we’ve been using a folding card table in our dining room so this is a great improvement. The style is very much to our taste — minimalist mid-century Scandinavian hardwood — and goes with the rest of our furniture. So we really appreciate it. You can see us breaking it in enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner (the kids sat in the kitchen). Also it looks really nice in everyday mode (we put random stuff on it).

In addition to the furniture my Mum brought some traditional Hungarian folk motif pillows and some crystal and a few other random items that had been in my grandmother’s house so we have a few nice things to remember her by.

In the karma department, I recently got a new bed frame and dresser for Michelle, so I’m passing my old dresser on to Kathleen and Martin. My Dad has been very helpful to both of us hauling furniture all across the state.

Thanksgiving dinner was really nice. Jeannie did a great job cooking a huge variety of foods, including the turkey, most excellent stuffing, potatoes and gravy, home made cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and two pies. In addition to my folks, her folks came over, as well as Mary and Lou and KVAP. Everyone had a really nice time.

Friday we took it easy and I caught up on some random tasks such as covering the fig tree for the winter, fixing the screen door (broken by an enthusiastic kid at Lizzy’s birthday party), putting away all the supplies from the recent painting project and throwing out the packaging from Michelle’s new furniture. That evening Lizzy, my Dad and I played few games of chess. It’s been a long time since I played an opponent at his level, and with Lizzy I always start with a handicap of missing knights and bishops. So I’ve gotten used to opening aggressively with the Queen, which turned out to be a mistake every game. The best game between my Dad and me lasted over an hour and a half, a long slow war of attrition with lots of maneuvering punctuated by the occasional capture of a piece, always in an even trade. Eventually it was down to a king, a bishop and two pawns on each side, and I finally managed to get one of my pawns promoted to a queen, and that was the end of that.

Saturday my folks, Jeannie, the girls and myself all headed up to the Albany area for Martin and Kathleen’s baby shower at K’s parents’ house. They live out in the countryside to the south of our state’s capitol, not too far from Ski Wyndham and Hunter Mountain. The house is on a huge plot of woodland, so while the wimmen were in showering Kathleen, Martin, my Dad, K’s dad Charlie and I went of a hiking tour of the property, spotting deer tracks and birds and 200-year-old stone walls and millions-of-years-old fossilized seashells. Charlie is a really nice guy and it was a good day. Unfortunately on the way home we got stuck in some serious heavy traffic before the Tappan Zee bridge, so it was a two hour trip up and a four-hour trip home. Note to self: remember to take the bridge at Bear Mountain!!!

Sunday we played lots of Nintendo. Up to 38 stars in Super Mario Galaxy.

Painting Project Complete

Our major home-improvement project this fall was to paint the bedrooms. They needed to be done cuz the original paint was kinda cheap and thinly applied and beginning to show it’s age, and the girls had both done a good job making a mess or their walls when they were toddlers. Plus there was some spackling to be done as house has settled and there were some cracks. We did one bedroom a month in September, October, and November. We’d do the ceiling one weekend and the walls the next, and then take a couple weekends off between rooms. The setup, moving furniture, taping and putting out tarps, and then tearing it down again and putting everything back is actually substantially more work than the actual painting.

Last year we tiled and painted our bathrooms. This was the first introduction of color into the house interior scheme. Our house is fairly new, and everything is white walls and honey oak wood. Very nice, minimalist and classy. When we did the bathrooms, we did one in a very pale green and the other a very pale blue. Subtle and light. This fall when we told the girls we were going to paint their rooms, there was a clamor for color.

Now lots of people have strong colors in their homes. Some of them even look really good. But not for me; my taste is more just plain white or light shades. Luckily we all agreed we wanted pastels, so we set about helping the girls pick their colors. One bedroom was a pale yellow, and the other a pale lavender. So far so good. Colorful but still airy, and they go together well, and go with the bathrooms, and the whole place is like a musical chord.

So it was down to the master bedroom, and we had to face the question of what color to make it. We already had one room in blue, green, yellow and purple. Where to go? Somehow another blue emerged as the natural choice, although I was concerned it would be too close to the bathroom so as to be discordant. The blue we picked was a bit brighter and bluer, and knowing that you can’t always trust the little paint chip, went ahead with it.

It seemed really nice while we were painting it, and Jeannie liked it without hesitation from the start, but once all the tape was off, I felt kind of overwhelmed. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was not quite right to me. I suppose I would have preferred a lighter shade of pale, but then it would have been too close to the bathroom. Also, unlike any other room in the house, this one does not change color in daylight versus electric light. Still, that was two weeks ago now, and alot has happened already and the idea of going back to do it over again seems unlikely. Jeannie says I should think of it like a jazz chord. So I’m growing to like it more and more.

Anyway it was a large amount of work and I’m happy it’s done and everything looks great. There will be some touch-up painting to do in the hall and stairs and on the trim, but that can mainly wait until after the new year. Now I can get back to working on my book!

In the irony department, we had a big crowd over for Thanksgiving and the next day I discovered some kind of pencil or metallic scratch marks on Michelle’s freshly painted wall, so there’s a new repair job already!