All Right Now

Been lazy about updating my blog the last couple weeks. But I got a good excuse: it’s summertime. Been chllaxin’. Went to the beach last weekend. Great time. Unusually calm water and dead jellyfish, but still a great hang. Next day Erik and I had rehearsal for our new duet/proto-band. It went really well and sounded really good. Learning lots of new tunes, and teaching Erik my originals. More on that whole project soon. I halfway organized my studio that night, a task which has been on my list since June. I dealt with all the music gear, music books and random sheet music. Part two will be to organize the origami. Then the weekend was over, and another work week came and went. Working for the man every night and day, along with all the other grownup concens. Then this weekend it was camping trip with the Bickers and the Blickeroonies, and Bob and Lisa. Getting ready for camping is always a lot of work, but once you’re there it’s such a great time. Once again the weather favored us. We drove up in a thunderstorm, and drove home in the same, but time we where there was great weather almost the whole time.

I’m very mellow about things right about now. Wish I could find a way to make that peace of mind last.

The Bloody Murderer

While we were camping a couple weeks ago, the kids made a movie in one morning. It was fun watching them work it out. The dialog, the shots, the special effects (prop knives and fake blood). They all collaborated on story and characters, but the mastermind behind the project was Nick’s son Antonio, who was chief instigator, director, cameraman and editor. He’s had some experience making movies already, and has the Monster Boy series up on youTube, starring his brother Marco. The name of this one is “The Bloody Murderer”.

So a week later, he sent us links to the final result. And I must say, the kid (11 years old) has talent! The movie is really awesome. Seriously, it’s better than some of the first-year film school films I watched at NYU (and my roommate was a film student, so I saw quite a few). Antonio, keep making films!

Nick said “I was pretty amazed myself. I mean, I had NOTHING to do with this. They all pulled their talents together and executed their vision. Congrats to the whole cast and crew!”

To which Jeannie said “Nick provided the camcorder and computer. That makes him executive producer!” (Jeannie knows all about being executive producer, since she once won 10 hours of session time at a recording studio and donated it to my band, earning her a place in liner note history.)

I must say too, it’s amazing how far the technology has come. Just like in music, where you can now have a recording studio in your house, so you can also have a movie editing studio. I remember years ago watching either The Godfather or Apocalypse Now and in the bonus features was in interview with Francis Copella. He was talking about his vision for the future of film, how the technology is getting better, and someday a kid with a vision will be able to make a film and tell a story just like nowadays (this was the 1970’s) kids can pick up a guitar and start a rock band. I’d say that day has arrived.

Here are the links to the film in two parts, plus bloopers:

Origami Dual Cube

I came up with this design back in June, and it was part of my exhibit for OUSA, but I just got around to photographing it this week. The shape is two intersecting cubes. I first saw it in an M. C. Escher print many years ago. The model is folded from a single sheet of paper, a rectangle with a 2:1 ratio. I must say it was a good deal easier than my Great Dodecahedron or Rhombic Dodecahedron. Still, this is only a preliminary study. My goal is to fold it from a square and with a color change so that the two cubes are in contrasting colors. This will require six color change regions. Fortunately I have a method for this, similar to the way I affect the color change in my Stellated Ocathedron (or Inchworm for that matter). Still, the devil is in the details, so I won’t actually know how well my approach works until I try it. Hopefully I’ll get around to it soon.

Origami Inchworm

Since my ebook has been finished I’ve gone back to working on my print book, which will include roughly twice the number of models. I have a couple of insects and have been thinking about designing some more. I was inspired on our recent camping trip to create an inchworm after encountering a friendly one in the woods. Friday I was in a long project review meeting that got a bit boring, so I worked out the design before it was over. Over the weekend I perfected it. It’s a color-change model, and I found using a regular sheet of 6” kami works well if you color the reverse side with a marker.

Origami Worldwide

A new origami book including a model by yours truly. Its a very cool collection, and I’m honored to be published alongside the likes of the other contributors.

Origami goes global with 33 models by designers from more than 15 countries! An intriguing mix of styles from around the world, this guide for origamists features models that originated in Australia, Hungary, Bolivia, China, India, and more. Figures range from simple to moderately difficult and include a frog, ocean liner, penguin, hot air balloon, dragon, and kangaroo.

Be first kid on your block to have your own copy:

Lawnmower Man

One side effect of all this travel and work was that my lawn was way overdue to be mowed. My lawnmower was kinda old and had a couple of spots in the main shell where it had rusted thru and I’d patched it over with duct tape. Last time I mowed I heard a ka-rack noise, and after that the engine seemed a bit wobbly. After I was done mowing I peeled off the duct tape to see that the rust holes had joined to form a C-shaped void that left the engine attached to the shell on only one side! I thought for a while about various ways to fix it, but they all seemed potentially unsafe, or not worth the hassle. A replacement shell would have been $110 anyway, without knowing the availability. So I decided to go shopping for a new lawmower.

The sales people at Sears were dreadful and didn’t even know the diff between a 2- and 4-stroke engine. In the end, I guess a lawnmower is a lawnmower, and I ended up getting a basic one. Even though I’m a former professional landscaper, my yard is petty small so I figured the simpler the better. It took a while to put it together and siphon the gas out of the old mower into the new one, and by the time it was ready it was almost dark. The days are getting shorter already. The new mower started up on the first pull, and it’s lighter and more maneuverable than my old one, and mows more evenly, so I’m pretty happy with it. Now to figure out what to do with the old mower. I has a perfectly good engine, which I guess I’ll save to use in a robot someday.

Saturday was all kinds of yardwork and random tasks. I finally got to doing the gutters with Lizzy helping out with the ladder. Since we cut down the trees on the north side of the house it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be, so I removed the gutter guards. Sunday I got a chance to get back to origami and music. We also had a surprise visit from my homeslice Mark, in town from the Adirondacks to try and line up new tenants for his place in Brooklyn.

The Adventure Continues

This was the first weekend I’ve been home in a month. So here’s a quick post to bring you up to date. After our big vacation in mid July, we spent last weekend camping with Martin’s and Nick’s. It was a great time, and great weather. Just a bit of rain as we were setting up camp, but then it cleared up. We were lucky; they were predicting a major storm. The whole thing was nice and mellow. Did some hikin, swimming’, barbecuein’, storytellin’, and just hangin’ out. Charlie is bright, well tempered and energetic, and getting big fast. Martin is moving on building his new house, so it’s only a matter of time until asks for his guitars back.

When I’ve been home I’ve been crazy busy at work the last two weeks, staying late and going back to work after the kids were in bed. Friday was our big demo. It was a tree browser for related records in our content management system, with all kinds of complex functionality for auto-expanding the tree and including related records, and managing duplicate records, circular dependencies and other kinds of relationships. I was pair programming with a colleague much of that time, and it was an interesting experience trying to build a huge, complex feature set under time pressure. We didn’t always see eye to eye on the approach, but in the end what we came up with was probably better than what either of us would have done on our own, and certainly faster. Olga is clever at using hash tables to speed things up, and good at low level implementation. On the other hand, her communication skills aren’t great, and I had a better understanding of the feature requirements. So I was focused on the architecture, the classes and methods, and how to keep it forward-maintainable, which often gets sacrificed in these situations. A well-written application should read like a good story. I ended up rewriting a substantial portion of here work to put all the business logic in one place so it could be easily read and (if necessary) modified down the line. Anyhow, we made our deadline and the application looked great and performed fast, so it was a big success and things will hopefully get back to normal.

Next up: I need a new lawmower.