Origami USA Unconvention

This weekend is usually the Origami USA Convention, four days of fun and folding, and reconnecting with my origami friends, sharing great origami and learning new stuff. It’s always a super-intense experience.

This year of course we didn’t have a convention due to the pandemic. So we did what we could. OUSA organized an unconvention, an online, virtual convention. It was two days instead of four, and had a single stream of classes. Robert Land, Beth Johnson, Michael LaFosse and a few others taught over Zoom video conferences. Wendy acted as host and led some sessions such as the opening and closing, the awards and the annual meeting.

All in all it was really good, given the limitations. Technically and presentation-wise, it came of smoothly and without a hitch. I learned a few cool new models and got to connect with my origami friends, and it kept the feeling of the convention alive.

Perhaps the best part of all is Adrienne Sack and Jared Needle organized a late-night folding and hangout session. There were only 20 or 30 people (over 1200 attended the main unconvention), but they were largely the ones I’d have hung out with late night anyway, so it definitely hit the the social folding vibe. I even taught a model. It was an international crowd with some CFC people there too like Ilan and Dascha. On Saturday night five continents were represented. I ended up staying up until after 3 am both nights.

There was talk at the annual meeting about whether the fall convention in Chicago would be happening, and the criteria they’re using to make that determination. If it’s on I can back to rewriting the scheduling tool. If it’s not I guess and could anyway. We’ll see what they say.

In other new my new book is lurching towards completion. I redesigned my Martian for inclusion. I’m renaming him Wise Martian rather than, says, Martian Mark II. I improved the folding sequence and the sculptural aspect of the face, as well as the stability of the standing pose and the lock. Now it’s down to finishing updating the layouts of diagrams for the last two models.

Sugar-Free Jazz

I updated my web site with a new page for my new work-in-progress album, whose working title is BZIV. You can see it here:


I realize my web site is long overdue fro some updates, so hopefully I’ll be getting around to some of that soon. For now, it’s one new page.

I even created a stand-in for album cover by taking a couple photos of my origami (a Stellated Dodecahedron, a.k.a a 3-D star, and an Astronaut) are ran them thru some photoshop filters. It’s a nice image and seems to go well with the tone of the album so for.

I have three completed songs: The Story Lies, Who Speaks on Your Behalf, andSun of the Son. Together they’re just about twenty minutes, or an album side. Halfway there. I must say this is a very good rate for me, twenty minutes of produced music in a year.

I’ve finally gotten to work on the long-waited and much hyped Plague of Frogs, although I’ll be changing the name because nobody wants to hear a song about the plague these day. Probably something like It’s Raining Frogs, or Battle of the Snow Frogs, or Frogs of War. As mentioned before it’s a 10-minute sci-fi epic. It’ll take a while to complete.

The rest of the album was going to be three to five other half written songs I have, but I might save them for a potential new rock group in the offing. This might get off the ground sooner than expected. Lagond, my main rehearsal studio, just sent out an email today that they’re opening back up soon.

Meanwhile, Sun of the Son came out so well I’m now thinking of making a whole record of digital studio jazz-like music. Get deeper into the aesthetic, bring in influences like Material, 80’s Miles, Kamasi, King Crimson, and who knows what else. I have three songs I wrote for Haven Street that are good for adaptation: Lift Off, Mobility and Winter Wolf Whisper, which I many change the name of to something like Autumn Eyes or Dolphin Eyes. After that I have two more, half-written jazz jams, currently called Heavy Water and Bluzoid. I might even tack on my version with lyrics of Jay’s balled Slope.

That’s alot of music to work on. The key is break it down into manageable tasks. I can play all these songs on sax, and I’m re-learning them on piano. I’m also trying them out on bass and even guitar so when it’s time to start recording I’ll know what I’m doing. Before I can get too far I’ll have to decide how to approach the drums. It’s going to be some combination of midi, loops and layers. I realize I don’t know precisely what Eric was doing on the drums, so I have to go back and listen. We never cut a record with this songs, so I have to go back thru the recordings I made of our gigs. With luck I’ll find some takes that are good enough to put on our web site, so watch this space.

Searching for a Ghost in the Machine

I’ve been low key looking for a new gig recently to compliment the Global Jukebox, either another consulting project or a something steady that would let me work from home. Luckily (if you can call it that) the software industry these days has shifted largely to remote work and it seems the trend to a large extent won’t be reversing. On the downside, many startups have miserable attitude towards their employees that begins with the hiring process. They say the only want the best of the best, and then start pushing you around like you have nothing better to than stick around and take it. Some want you to take a coding test before you ever talk to a human. One place recently asked me to submit a video, like an audition tape, in lieu of an interview. You must be kidding me. One place a few months ago asked me to take a one-hour coding quiz that turned out to be three hours. I ignore all these places cuz my time is valuable. If they’re like that when they’re recruiting they’re probably not very good to work for.

So it was refreshing today when I had a second interview (the deep tech one) at a place that actually cared about my experience, my approach to problem solving, how I work in teams and all that, rather than treat me like I must be some kind of liar trying to bluff my way into a their precious organization.

There was the usual coding quiz, where you have to write a working program on the spot. I must say I usually dread these. They tend to focus on low-level stuff you may not have used in a long time and you can just google if you need to in real life, and often as not they throw in arbitrary gotchas or they’re hung up on syntax or some library or something. In short, not modeling a real code situation and not testing high-level ability.

As luck would have it, the quiz was something I implemented just a few days ago in the course of work on the Jukebox. Basically it was to take a list of strings that might contain duplicated and return a list with no dupes. I did this to provide autocomplete prompts in our search component. When I was writing it I thought to myself, gee this is just the kind of thing they like to ask on coding quizzes. Maybe I should google it to see if my solution is optimal. I did and it was. So when the quiz came today I just flew right through, literally just writing out some code that was already in my head.

New Mix: Sun of the Son

I thought I was done with this song last fall, but after listening to my new mixes I thought I could make it better. The main thing I did was to tone down the effects on the snare drum because it was kinda overpowering in a couple sections. While I was in there I cleaned up the phrasing on the horn a bit, and added some percussion to the jam section to give it more of a Kamasi vibe. Hopefully this one is now finished, and it’s on to some new songs.


Warning: it’s a ten-minute computer jazz jam, so the can enjoy the radio edit if you’re into the whole brevity thing:


New Song: The Story Lies

Well the exciting thing that happened this week was that Lizzy came home for a visit. We haven’t seen her since the start of her semester back in January.

In music news, my other new song, The Story Lies, is done, and you can hear it here:


As mentioned before, the song was originally written by my brother Martin. I’m quite happy with the way it came out. It’s very much a groove song compared to WSOYB, and my version is much funkier and jazzier than the original. Instrumentally it’s a blend of bass and drums, keys and guitar, with a sax jamming out over everything. It’s got a great chord progression that lends itself to the John Coltrane sheets of sound approach, so I managed to work a little of that in. The lead vocal is a single track with no harmonies, and like the vocal delivery. On the original version there were some backing vocals, so I ended up adding a synth part on the chorus to take up that space.