Paper Jam, Part I

Another Origami USA annual convention has come on gone. This year was an especially productive weekend and fun time for me. I meant to write a post last week when I was preparing for the convention, but I was too busy and ran out of time. So I’ll rewind a bit.

I’ve been busy folding new models and diagramming the past few weeks. A week ago Friday I had planned to take the day off from work and finish folding a whole bunch of works-in-progress. But I had to go in to the office to manage a group of contractors who are taking over the codebase of a project from another group, a project which I will be overseeing going forward. And as it turns out the codebase is sort of a fixer-upper. So it goes.

I had some good origami time on Sunday, but I had to choose between finishing models and finishing diagrams. I already had completed several new models for my exhibit this year and went back and wet-folded a few others, so I decided to concentrate on the diagrams. (More on the uncompleted models soon, as the they will be completed.) I went thru all the diagrams I had made in the last year -– fourteen in all — and proofread them. A few were mistake-free, several had one or two minor mistakes, several more had a sequence of steps that needed to be redrawn for clarity and/or accuracy. And then the last few — the Moose, Adirondack Chair, and U.F.O. needed to be finished. The ending steps of each of these models are fully three-dimensional so every step requires a new, highly detailed drawing. So that took up all of my free time and late into the night the rest of the week.

Last Thursday there was a happy hour event after work for the people in my group. I was vacillating on whether to go, being tempted to skip it to go home and fold. But there has been alot of turmoil lately in my group, and people will speak the kind of truth after work with a beer in their hand that the won’t in the office in the daytime, so I went along to hang out and encourage my colleagues to have another drink and see if there was anything to learn. The place was way downtown in SoHo, a neighborhood that I haven’t been to in years.

The bar was right across the street from where I used to live way back in 1993-94 with my friend Levitt when the area was pretty sketchy. I was in a third story walk-up loft that have a living space in one half and a studio full of stage lighting equipment in the other, and we were (among other things) working on software to automate the control of the lights thru MIDI. The stairway always smelled like machine oil and your were always light headed when you reached the flat. We suspected poor ventilation and carbon monoxide. The neighborhood changed a lot in the time I was there. There used to be some crack bum sleeping up the block, in a doorway that became an Armani store. Guess he had to find another place. Sometimes there were movie shoots on the streets and was able to grab breakfast on my way to work from a catering cart.  Now the building that where my loft was is no longer there, but a new high-rent luxury apartment is standing in its place.

When I got home that night I was too tired mentally to do any folding, so I went to bed early, which turned out the be a good move. I was able to get all my weekend chores done by midday Friday and had some time to finish preparing my exhibit and tweak some of the models I had. Each year my exhibit gets better and this was the best one yet.

More on the conference itself in part 2…

TV Strikes Back

My television spontaneously stopped working one day last week. They finally stopped broadcasting analog TV. I knew this day was coming for over ten years now, because way back in the 90’s I worked in a place doing R&D into futuristic interactive digital media, and it was on the slate way back then. Still, it had already been delayed more than once, so I never thought they’d actually go thru with it. In fact Jeannie put on Conan just so we could see the Snow Crash at midnight, but it never came. “Ha! See?” I said, but they quietly went dark the next day when no one was watching.

So now if we want to watch real time TV we need a weird little box that doesn’t properly turn off, only goes on “standby” with a sinister red light like the Eye of Sauron. For the most part this doesn’t bother me and I usually just unplug the thing, as I’m not a big fan of TV news, talks shows or watching sports on the tube. In fact, it’s been about two years since I watched much of anything on TV.

But TV has been creeping back into my life in form of internet TV. We’ve been getting into watching streaming shows from Netflix and Hulu. I thought my kids didn’t watch alot of TV until he first time I tried streaming from Netflix and saw a whole stack of Hannah Montana in the recently watched bin. It turns out TV can still be pretty entertaining and a good way to turn off your mind when you don’t have to suffer thru all those ads, and you can watch it whenever you like, which for me means late at night.

First we were getting into the classic 60’s show Star Trek, and worked our way thru about half of season one since coming back from New Mexico in April. Also we were turned on to 30 Rock after seeing it on the flight from Hell on the way back from NM. It’s a smart and wickedly funny sitcom, and always has one Star Wars (or other geek show) reference per episode. We had borrowed The Godfather from Netflix, and because it’s such a long movie, it sat on top of our DVD deck for about six months before we finally had the time to watch it. So then we got The Godfather II, and now that’s been sitting there for four months. One Saturday night not too long ago, we decided we could watch 12 or 13 episodes of 30 Rock in the time it would take to watch the Godfather II, so now we’ve basically burned our way thru 30 Rock. We also watch The Daily Show on Hulu from time to time. Usually catch up on the whole week on a Thursday night. Two minutes of ads per half hour is alot more tolerable than ten or twelve.

So you heard it hear first. This is the golden age of Internet Television, a.k.a. a reasonable value proposition for the viewer. In a few years when it becomes popular in the mainstream it’ll become as loaded up with ads and filler as cable and broadcast TV, and they’ll start charging two or three times for the same thing (like I don’t already pay for an ISP, etc.). And then I’ll have to give up watching TV again or go underground. Ah well, might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Origami Castle Complete

Weather update: it’s now been eight days in a row of rain, although the sun came out for a few hours yesterday afternoon, just in time for us to have a nice barbecue. And it looks like we get some sunshine again this afternoon.

I completed an exhibit quality origami castle based on my Armory configuration. It’s made from a 19″ square of Wyndstone, the same as my War Elephant. I tweaked the proportions to make the main square larger in proportion to the towers. In my prototype I started by dividing the paper into eighths, but for this one I divided it into ninths.

In other news I updated my main music page and the page for my work-in-progress album, Face The Heat, as well as the lyrics page. At this point I have seven songs done, and want to take a break from recording to concentrate on origami before I start in on a new song. Of the three or four songs I might start in on next, all are only semi-written, and in particular the lyrics and melody need to be finished and fitted to the music. This process can take a while, so I think rather than try and power thru it, I’ll sit back and see if inspiration comes to me to propel the process forward. Meanwhile I’ll take a step back from the songs I have and just listen a while and see how the mixes sit.

Origami Castle Explorations

And so castles made of sand fall to the sea eventually.

Forget what I said about the nice weather. We had a beautiful weekend but it’s been raining for four days straight now. Also it turns out that that plant in our yard is a mountain laurel, not a rhododendron. Ah well. To top it off there’s been more turmoil at the office the last few weeks, culminating in my boss, a VP of technology, resigning yesterday. And so it goes.

After I designed my origami tower I realized I could combine several towers on one sheet to form a castle. And so I’ve been experimenting in that direction. I came up with a bunch of prototypes with several successful layouts. The first was what I’m now calling the Grand Castle. The idea was to have one large central tower surrounded by a wall with four smaller towers at the corners. Once I started folding it I realized that I would also have a tower in the center of each edge wall, resulting in a total of nine towers. These middle towers would be rectangular rather than square and I would have to work out how to finish them. So I made a second version, called the Armory. It’s a single block of a building with four towers in a square with no central tower. This one seemed promising so I tried a few layouts with different proportions. The third one is called the Classic Castle. It consists of six towers in two groups. In the front is a gatehouse flanked by two small towers. In the back is a keep consisting of a large tower with a hall on each side. In between is a central courtyard.

This seems like maybe the best layout, but a lot of work to fold. So I went with the Armory to do as an exhibit-level model because it’s alot less complicated. Also I found it’s symmetry appealing, and thought it’d easier to finish neatly. Once I began I realized the base itself would make a really nice tessellation.

Now I’m thinking I can combine the castle technology with some ideas from the Origami from Space series to create all kinds of domes and spires, and virtually any kind of architectural structure. I have my plate full for this year, but look for more of this stuffs for the 2010 exhibition.

Fair Weather

Blue sky sunshine
Clear head free time
Tune in your mind
The whole world loves you
And the universe too
It’s gonna be a beautiful day

Love this time of year. The long days and pleasant weather just make me feel good and give me energy. We’ve been enjoying a really nice spell as spring rounds the corner into summer. A few weeks ago we had a lot of rain, which was great for the lawn. Now it’s been sunny an in the 70’s pretty much very day. Last month we had another giant ancient maple tree taken out of our yard because it had a large dead limb way up there. Since the one last summer went so well I didn’t even bother to work at home that day to keep an eye on things. Apart from our mailbox getting bumped it was just fine. One happy side effect was that there is a rhododendron bush in our yard that was always under the maple’s shade is now coming into its own, looking positively glorious.

New Recording: Green Glove

Here is the rough mix for my new song Green Glove. I think I’ve achieved a pretty funky groove, and the piano solos ain’t too bad if I say so myself. Thanks to Jeannie for singing the backing vocals in the outro.

Here is alternate version with a different lyric. Jeannie said it was too silly even for this song, so I changed it.

This is now song number seven of nine or maybe ten for my album. I’ve started another song who’s working title is either “Black Swan” or “The Singularity”, but I’ll probably put that aside for a little while to concentrate on origami.