Penrose Redux

I folded the first three in the series of Penrose tessellations out of good paper for my exhibit for the upcoming OrigaMIT convention October 19 in Cambridge, Mass. The 10-cell is folded from a 6” pentagonal sheet of Marble Wyndstone, the 35-cell from a 12” sheet of Tant, and the 70-cell from a 16” sheet of Wyndstone.

I’ll also be teaching the Penrose tessellations, the 10 and 35 cell versions. I’m giving them precut pentagonal paper to save time. I also finally got around to drawing out the crease patterns. Last year OrigaMIT was a great time, and I’m looking forward to it again.

I’ve also been working on a new butterfly design. More on that soon!

Amplifier Fire

Summer is definitely coming to an end. The days are still warm and pleasant but the nights are getting cooler. Last week we took out our air conditioner in the living room because hornets were getting into the house thru it. A couple days later we had a mini heat wave, up into the 90’s for the first time since July.

Back in the swing of things for the new school year. Lizzy really likes high school, and Michelle likes Kung Fu, and they’re both off to a good start. Friday evening was the welcome back picnic at Michelle’s school. It was good to see everyone again. We had lots of great adventures this summer and seemed to go on forever, but now it seems like it went by so fast. Still it’s good to be home and back into routine. No more traveling for a little while.

The Relix rock and soul revue is shaping up nicely. I’ve learned about 50 songs, although half of them I already knew halfway and the other half I don’t know half as well as I should like. I’m singing and playing sax and keys. We have our first gig coming up in just a few weeks. I did buy an new amp, a Roland Jazz Chorus, and I’m really happy with it. It’s kinda of an expensive amp new, so I felt really lucky that I found one used on Craigslist for sale by some guy on Long Island for half off. And he’s a jazz guy and treated the amp really nice; it’s basically in new condition. It’s so loud I haven’t turned it up past one yet at home.

And just in time too. My old amp had been making noise and cutting out to really low volume every now and then for some time now, and I knew it was a matter of time before it died completely. My big fear is that it’d cut out on the stand at the first show. The day after I brought my new JC-120 home I turned on the old amp to A/B the two. The old amp was nothing but distortion, no matter how I fiddled with it. So I guess it’s finally toast.

I also had to buy a new mixer for my studio. My old Mackie 1202 from the 90’s gave up the ghost the same week. But it went down fighting. In fact it woke up the kids with a huge droning noise like heavy machinery out of control. They called up Jeannie at work and she had them shut down the main power amp but even then the noise thru the headphones could be heard across the room. So I got a new 1402. Same thing but newer, with more channels, better EQ and real faders. Now I can plug in 2 more mics without having to unplug anything. And it was on sale!

Then this week the guy from the jazz ensemble called me up and asked me to play with them. I was thinking maybe I’d skip it cuz I’m pretty busy with the rock band, but I’m glad I went. It feels more like a club than an actual band. This time half the musicians were different than last time; only the bass, drums and guitar the same. Still it was a great chance to stretch out and work on soloing, and meet some more musicians.

We’re Back Again

Rewinding a couple weeks, we spent a weekend camping in the Catskills with friends, cooking over fires, swimming in the lake, paddling around in canoes and playing acoustic guitars. After the heavy rain the first night of our trip in July we bought a new, larger shelter that sets up quicker but is bulkier and heavier to transport. Turns out the weather was beautiful and we didn’t need it. The highlight of the trip was a bald eagle circling around the lake one day. Jeannie and I managed to get close to it in the canoe. We drifted right up under the tree where he was perched and watched him spread his wings and take off across the lake. Amazing.

We were back home for a couple of days and the big news is that I got a full proof of the first draft of my book from my editor. For the most part the look is great, the choice of photos and all. One quibble is them doing goofy things with CaPiTaLiZaTioN of the chapters. The bigger issue is they condensed the diagrams to make it all fit into 128 pages. Some of the layouts are too crowded, and the drawings shrunk too much, and the layouts no longer flowing correctly. I’m working thru what to do about all that. I’ve been providing revised layouts that flow better and maximize the size of the drawings while still fitting in the available space. This is a pretty big time suck, taking me away from other projects, but I suppose it had to happen sometime. Now I’m up the most complex models in the back half of the book, and it’s clear they’ll have to come up a few pages. So either we’ll have to take some pages out elsewhere or make the book longer. We’ll see how it goes.

Then we took a long weekend road trip over Labor Day. The first stop was Washington, D.C. We visited the Udvar-Hazy annex to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. This is out by Dulles airport and has a huge collection of huge planes and spacecraft. Among them is B-29 Enola Gay, the Space Shuttle Discovery, a Concorde, a Blackbird, a DC-10, and lots of commercial and military planes and helicopters from small to huge. Also a really cool cutaway of a nine-cylinder rotary engine that really helped me explain to the kids how motors work.

Next day the main thing was the Native American Museum and National Art Gallery in The Mall. The highlight there was a light sculpture installed in the passageway between the east and west galleries. As we moved thru it, I recognized Conway’s Life being played out on the array of LEDs. This reminded me of my friend Leo, an artist how does installations of this kind. Way back in the day I helped him program some controls so he could run Life on a grid of LEDs. Shaw’nuff when we got the end of the passageway the sign said it was Leo’s work. It’s amazing to see his stuff in the same gallery as Rembrandt as Picasso.

The last part of the trip was to the beach in Ocean City. The big downer this year is that our hotel closed its hot tub. We’ll probably have to look for a new hotel next time we go back. Other than that it was great fun and very relaxing. After the first day the weather was hot enough we didn’t even miss the hot tub. We swam in the ocean, went to the water park, went out to dinner and down to the boardwalk, and visited the ponies at Assateague.

Now we’re back home and back to work. Michelle had her first kung fu lesson yesterday. Lizzy had her first day of high school today. Michelle starts school Monday. It’ll be a whole new set of routines this fall.