Octagons and Parabolas


Today was a pretty exciting day in terms of math-y origami (In terms of everything else, not so much.)

Left: Octagonal tato I  am using as thank you notes. Spent this afternoon folding a writing, but still not done.

RIght: Parabola approximations. Got to school 15 minutes earlier than normal this morning to present a potential math IA topic to my teacher. After my first idea failed, I decided to focus on approximating the area under a parabola using tangent lines that can be easily generated with origami.


Avoiding Workaholic Tendencies (productivity experiments)

Last week, I came to an interesting realization, neatly wrapped up in this Facebook message:


Amidst my SATs, summer program applications, tutoring, tests, Student Congress work, and homework, I had, slowly but surely, become a workaholic. I have absolutely no idea how that happened, (*sarcasm) but everything’s calmed down a bit since then. As a precaution though (and because I’m curious), I’ve decided to try a couple of productivity experiments.

Post-it Notes

Inspired by this post by Cal Newport about using a “depth deck” to focus on long term projects.

The basic strategy is to write every step of a project on a separate index card, clip them together, and as you complete individual parts, record the date and remove the card from the deck.

Well, what if my entire life is a huge project and I used post it notes instead of index cards?

Fun fact: When I was in 6th grade, I collected used post-it notes from everyone in my grade to fold origami with. Yes, used post it notes. Yes, everyone. (We were learning how to use post-it notes to annotate at the time.)

I created some interesting pieces from the post it notes, but I still had ~100 post it notes that I never got around to folding. So I grabbed a felt tip pen, wrote everything I had to do on a separate post it note, and stuck the top one on my laptop. BOOM. INSTANT PRODUCTIVITY. (Just kidding.)




The main benefit I got from this was finally finding a use for all these post it notes forcing myself to only work on one thing at a time. Whether I actually did what was on the post-it note was another matter, but I didn’t have any of those times where I get so sidetracked that I forgot what I was originally supposed to do.

Browser Hacks

1) Working in fullscreen. Something about physically seeing multiple tabs at the top of Chrome makes it way too tempting to Ctrl+Tab to another screen, hence distractions. Fullscreen takes care of that wonderfully.

2) Blocking my Facebook feed with AdBlock. Sometimes I end up spending an obscene amount of time scrolling through the same stories over and over on my feed. So I abused AdBlock and claimed that my entire newsfeed was an ad. Either I choose ads on all my other sites, or no NewsFeed. It’s usually a pretty clear victory. I’m not really sure how well this works, since messaging kills more of my time, but I like to think that it’s at least somewhat useful.

3) StayFocusd. I can easily exit full screen or pause AdBlock, but once I activate Nuclear Mode on StayFocusd, there’s no going back. At the time of writing, I currently have nuclear mode on for 2 hours. It’s wonderful and horrible at the same time.


This screen has saved me so many times from distraction

The daily time limit doesn’t work for me. Nuclear mode is the way to go.

Do I actually want to be productive?

Do I find procrastination a virtue? Do I not feel productive unless I’m “working on” three things at once while having 10 tabs open? Is feeling productive more important than being productive?

There are times where I don’t mind wasting half of my night Faceboook messaging people because I have nothing better to do. But those nights are becoming fewer and fewer, and more often then not, I regret wasting all that time.

Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, it’s going to take a pretty significant mindshift and self-discipline. Yes, I may get hate from my friends for being “too productive.” But in the end, the truth is that I’ll be getting more done, and no one can take that away from me.

Note to self: Do this for Project Santa next year

Project Santa is considered Bellaire’s biggest service project of the year, but I can’t stop feeling “meh” about the entire event. Our booth got taken away from us, our family never showed up, I didn’t have anyone to stick for a long time (except the Film Society people, who were nice enough to let me barge in as a stranger and use their table/paper/scissors/tape), and I wasn’t able to help with much.

I ended up feeling emotionally drained and extremely water-deprived, and this is my only real accomplishment.

I made a few more, but I gave them to the Film Society members.

In retrospect, I should have made this a booth (they’re easier to make that they look), instead of sitting and making these by myself. Next year, next year.

My intersections aren’t tetrahedra-ing

I have an ottoman in my room that I use to store all my art/craft-related supplies. The lid’s broken and the blue cloth on the inside is torn, and I don’t use it much, but inside I have everything neatly organized. 

Yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, yarn needles, templates for cards and envelopes, stickers, googly eyes, embroidery thread, felt, ribbon, bracelet making kits, pony beads, party bags, and other random scraps from craft sets that I never finished.

But mainly it’s filled with paper.

An origami gift set, a package of origami paper I from the UK that was imported from Korea, two packs I recently got as gifts, animal print paper, a pack of Post-it notes, two stacks of square notepaper, scrapbook paper, vellum, brightly colored printer paper, brightly colored notebook paper, cardstock.

Yeah, it’s a lot.

I had folded with all these materials before, but I never finished a single pack. (the notepaper itself was 500 sheets) I needed to get rid of use up all this paper somehow.

After folding the Platonic solids (not shown because they’re boring and falling apart already) I decided to move on to a more…interesting model.

Five intersecting tetrahedra.

Green notepaper.

Green notepaper.

Nevermind that it involved making the same simple module 30 times.

Nevermind that getting three modules to lock in a corner never actually worked out well.

Nevermind that I had no idea how to intersect the tetrahedra so they actually looked nice. (Mathematically, each vertex is supposed to be on the vertex of a dodecahedron. In reality, I have no idea how to create that.)

I felt like all the repetition was reducing me down to slave labor. Why was I doing this? (Answer: Because if I didn’t keep my hands busy, I’d start attacking my hair. Also, bragging rights.)

Mindless repetition is the one aspect I hate about school math (and life in general), yet it’s essential in modular origami since that’s where all the pretty symmetry comes from.

The instructions said that assembly was the hardest part. I found it to be the most interesting. Though it may have led to some dark late-night thoughts and mild existential crises that led to me wondering about my trich. Crying may have ensued.

The day after I had ragequitted on the third tetrahedra, I was eating lunch with a few friends, when I had confessed that I had cried the night before. When they asked why, rather than saying trich, I blurted out, “I was doing some origami, and MY INTERSECTIONS WEREN’T TETRAHEDRAING PROPERLY. IT WAS A METAPHOR FOR MY LIFE. DON’T JUDGE ME OK?”

I got the proper teasing about being a nerd, and we went on with our conversation.

Mini Origami Sea Urchin

Surprisingly, the days where I have the most free time are also the days I feel the most uninspired to write. So here’s a picture from over the summer, back when I was going through my origami craze.

I was trying to see how small I could fold an origami sea urchin, and after a few tedious hours of manipulating a 3 cm square, I ended up with this little guy, just over a centimeter long.

Since then, I’ve lost the dedication to intricately make creases in tiny sheets of paper, as well as the time necessary to do so. Origami is becoming more and more of a pointless hobby that I do just to pass the time, although I’m not sure what that says about me and my priorities right now.

Origami Flower Tower Bobby Pins

Flower Tower Bobby Pins

As I referenced a few posts back, I wanted to try a project or something with origami over the summer, and I’m thinking about starting an Etsy store once I get some more jewelry making supplies and other materials. Until then, I’m stuck with bobby pins, which are kind of simple, to say the least. This is just a smaller 8 point variation of the flower tower designed by Chris Palmer covered in some varnish and attached to a bobby pin. 

Paper: Green Post-it Note with the sticky part removed. (Original, I know)

What do you guys think?

Would it be crazy to…


New Kawasaki Rose by Toshikazu Kawasaki. #firstmodelofsummer

If you haven’t noticed before, origami has always fascinated me (sometimes more so than others), and after reading about what some people have done with origami, I want to try a project of my own.

Many of the projects I’ve read about have been pretty long term, (at least a year long) and I’m not sure if I would be able to finish them, especially with school. Then again, there’s absolutely no time limit, and either way, I’ll still be folding origami and givingit to people.

Inspiration (in no particular order):

  • Sandy and the 1000 Paper Cranes — folding 1000 origami cranes and releasing them “into the wild” in random places around the world with the hope of brightening someone’s day. A positive word and a link to their website is written on each crane, and crane #506 was just released a few weeks ago. Started: June 2010.
  • Everything Origami— an Etsy shop with a website that donates all profits to charity. The title speaks for itself. A friend originally showed me this shop, saying that his friend started it  (the word “friend” used loosely in both cases) To say the least, I was pretty amazed at the items in the shop and the fact that this girl was only a few years older than me, and it made me want to start a shop of my own. Started: July 2011.
  • 89 Acts of Kindness— Doing 89 random acts of kindness for strangers in memory of Samantha Mann’s grandmother. Related in no way to origami, but the story behind this project is inspiring yet simple, and it makes you wonder why most people don’t do stuff like this on a regular basis. Started: March 2013
  • Cranes for Cancer— Instead of simply folding 1000 cranes for a cause, this blog/organization is sending 1000 cranes (also called a senbazuru) to any cancer patient who needs the support.  To date, more than 20 senbazurus (that’s 20,000  origami cranes) have been sent to various cancer patients around the world. This is an extremely large-scale mission, but people from all around the world have contributed cranes to this project. Started: ~1995
  • A Thousand Quilted Cranes–Not origami either, but inspired by the Japanese legend of folding 1000 cranes. The project starter (I can’t find her name) aims to sew a crane block every day, dedicating each square to someone who has had an impact on her life. Here’s today’s block. (number 116)  Started: February 2013
  • Everyone who has ever tried to convince me to do something with my origami. (Yes, all of you)

So what do I plan on actually doing? I’m not completely sure yet, but all these projects and people have given me a basic idea.

…There. I’ve said this idea to the world. Now I actually have to follow through with it :P