Monday, October 08, 2007

Pepakura - Make Your Own Figurines!

The Internet has spawned a number of sites devoted to papercraft or Pepakura patterns. Papercraft is similar to Origami, the Japanese art of making folded paper sculptures, except that it usually involves cutting out shapes and gluing them together. Thanks to technology, we can easily share patterns through Illustrator and PDF files. We can also use 3-D software to automatically flatten the shape into a pattern.

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posted by Brian at 11:09 AM 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pen Spinning 102: The Thumbaround Harmonic

Pen Spinning (or Pen Twirling as we called it) was something many of the guys in debate team did while I was in High School in Texas. Or more accurately, we stuck to what seems to be now called the Thumbaround. (We had no such nomenclature for our useless habit.) Eventually, I would discover people could do all sorts of pen tricks, particularly my Asian friends.

It took lots of practice during Physics, Chemistry, and Debate classes, as well as the noise of countless pencils flinging across the room, hitting the floor, but I finally managed to do Thumbarounds. My colleagues and I on the Debate team would travel to other schools for competitions, and in between sets we'd watch people doing Thumbarounds. Me and one guy hypothesized that it might be possible, but highly unlikely, that one could do it in reverse. But we decided it was probably impossible to to go back and forth quickly.

Until one night. I was sitting with a table of debaters from another school. Suddenly, there it was! Forward, backward, forward, backward, around and around until he lost control and dropped it. A-ha! It was possible.

So back I went. I practiced and practiced until finally... I got it. Now, decades later, people where I work are impressed. Some of them can do the fancy Korean-style finger flips, but nobody can do the elusive Thumbaround Harmonic.

This is not to be confused with the Thumbaround Reverse (which I cannot do, though it's probably easier). That's where you start at standard position, then immediately spin the pen backwards. The Harmonic, done properly is NOT Thumbarounds followed by Reverses over and over -- that's too controlled, with catches in between. No, as described in this video, the fingering is very subtle squeezing such that the pen is kept in constant non-stop motion, no catches.

YouTube is a veritable training ground for Pen Spinning, so get out there* and study Pennastics.

* Has anyone noticed I keep ending blog posts with that phrase? Your homework is to count how many times and leave a comment. Seriously, I do not want to become a formulaic writer, like Cary did on the show Sex and the City.

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posted by Brian at 10:07 PM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Compulsive Knitting Disorder

I'm told by several lady friends that knitting is a compulsive, addictive hobby. This animation by Finnish animator Laura Neuvonen demonstrates the potential consequences of too much knitting.

from CRAFT magazine by way of Spirits Dancing.

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posted by Brian at 3:49 PM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rainy Tuesday & Thoughts of Turntables Spinning In My Head

One of the hazards of any new hobby you may start is "Gear Lust." For me, right now, that lustworthy object is the Turntable, the modern term for a phonograph or record player.

Before my DJ class, these were delicate, antique devices irrelevant in today's world except for those with shelves full of old 12" LP records, or props used in hip music videos. Now I understand clearly -- turntables are the "stick-shift" of controlling the playback of music. Sure, you can do "automatic" with your laptop or even those tiny performance CD turntables. But what you really want is the raw power, the torque and feel of a pair of over-built spinning wheels of sound.

Everyone says Technics is the best. It's in 90+% of the clubs out there, apparently. Though according to some reviews, the other brands like Numark, Vestax and Stanton have caught up with equal or surpassing turntables.

I'm a newbie though. I could get by with a discount kit meant for "bedroom DJing". (This is an actual term! Why do DJs practice in their bedrooms?? Not the kitchen, dining room, parlor, basement or garage, hence the term "garage band"? If one gets "turntable" as a weapon in the game CLUE, you can be sure it's a DJ in the bedroom?)

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posted by Brian at 5:38 PM 0 comments links to this post