Category: Family

Fleeting Flickr fame

Sunday, June 24th, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Family, Friends

“Our friends and families may think we’re just a little strange, but Origami Convention ’07 is an incredible opportunity to join hundreds of other people who share our fascination with this gentle art, hundreds of other people who understand without explanation.”

OrigamiUSA Convention 2007 information page

SYB, card-carrying member of OrigamiUSA, was deeply and happily ensconced in his yearly ritual of folding and socializing at FIT. After my Sunday morning clinic, I decided to take him up on his invitation to check out the exhibition, where origamists (or “folders,” in origami community parlance) from around the world had their works on display for the general public.

At the end of an underground hallway, in an otherwise non-descript room, there were set up tables upon tables of colorful models: impossibly intricate animals, faces, figures, modulars, tessellations… the sheer skill and creativity was astounding. I ran through a pair of AA batteries just trying to digitally capture it all. In keeping with the friendly, inclusive nature of the gathering, the exhibition was open to all who wanted to showcase their work, with no regard for “rankings” or prizes awarded…. just a place for folders to share their designs and mutual love of paper.

The room gradually began to fill with convention attendees – some in colorful, elaborate paper hats, naturally – as the morning classes and seminars broke for lunch. A quirky group, based on my brief interactions with a few of the folders, but perhaps no more eccentric than any group tightly knit around a common, and very specific, interest.

A sampling of exhibit photos. Yami Yamauchi’s “Life is Beautiful” (via SYB), an arrangement of 427 individual models:

OrigamiUSA 2007

Satoshi Kamiya‘s mind-blowing dragon, which according to Wikipedia, is created from a single 20″ sheet of paper folded 275(!) times.

OrigamiUSA 2007

OrigamiUSA 2007

Joel Cooper’s faces:

OrigamiUSA 2007

HOJYO Takashi‘s figures:

OrigamiUSA 2007

Robert Lang’s awesome single-sheet origami flag, which was featured in the New York Times Magazine in April. Lang himself was at the exhibit that morning; apparently he’s something of an origami rock star, if there can be such a thing.

OrigamiUSA 2007

After a stop at Pinkberry-rival Yolato, I headed back home to work on the new flickr pro account, taking advantage of the few hours’ break in today’s schedule to upload my photos from that morning. The response almost immediate: by nighttime, my “Origami Convention 2007” flickr set had logged just over two dozen views; by the following day, a few dozen more. (Contrast this with the audience for some of my other flickr sets, whose views can be counted on one hand.) And then a link to the exhibition set hit the origami mailing lists and a few of the folder bulletin boards. Seemingly overnight, my numbers spiked: hundreds of views a day, new flickr contacts, a few comments, even some complimentary emails and “favorite” photo designations. Naturally, none of this is particularly unusual, but for someone unused to the attention, it was slightly disconcerting. Let’s face it: most of the time, I can’t even be certain my friends and family read this blog. So: flattering, yes, but disconcerting.

Improbably, after just over a year, and hundreds of hours spent crafting near-daily entries for, I suddenly got noticed for a few random photos on my weeks-old flickr account. I don’t know whether to feel discouraged or validated. Well, that’s the Internet for you. (Isn’t it ironic? Don’tcha think?)

A couple of weeks and 3,000+ views later, the flickr set once again slipped under the radar. So I guess I’m back to toiling away in anonymity again.

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The best small town in America

Sunday, June 17th, 2007 | All Things, Family, Travel

Returning to the city from our Fathers Day outing that afternoon, we crossed paths with the Essex Steam Train, with its restored Pullman cars, making its way through the Connecticut River Valley.

Connecticut Valley Train

Essex, a picturesque town of about 6,500 residents on the banks of the Connecticut River, bills itself as “The Best Small Town in America.” Situated halfway between New York City and Boston, the town actually consists of three villages: Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton.

Essex village originated as a prosperous shipbuilding community; the American warship, “Oliver Cromwell” was built here in 1775, the first of over 500 vessels to be built in Essex between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. In keeping with the nautical tradition, the town also claims the only working, full-scale model of The American Turtle, the first submarine to be used (and lost) in combat, built by Eli David Bushnell in 1776(!)

Exquisitely preserved colonial, Georgian and Victorian houses still line Main Street, among them the space housing the Connecticut River Museum and the Griswold Inn, one of the oldest continuously operated inns in the country. Today, the leafy streets are lined with art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops.

Essex Books

Essex Savings Bank

Essex Post Office


One day, perhaps a RiverQuest Sunset Cruise?

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Sunday, June 17th, 2007 | All Things, Family

On this brilliantly sunny Sunday, we piled into the car for a road trip to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Mohegan Sun

Mohegan Sun

I remember when going to a casino was an experience punctuated by the cacophany of quarters cascading against steel bins. All that’s changed, though; as of May 1, 2007, all of Mohegan Sun’s 6,000 slot machines became coin-free, joining the ranks of those along the Las Vegas strip and Atlantic City’s boardwalk. Instead of coins or tokens, the casino now employs so-called “Ticket In/Ticket Out” (TITO) technology; payouts are made via bar-code printed vouchers, which can be inserted and scanned into any machine for gaming credits (just like paper currency), or redeemed for cash at redemption kiosks or cashier booths.

The shift to electronic ticketing allowed Mohegan Sun to trim 20% of its attendant and cashier staff and to clear up valuable floor space previously occupied by the bulky coin-redemption booths. In their place, the casino plans to set up new lounges designed by the ubiquitous Rockwell Group.

Certainly, it’s a quicker and more convenient system for the players, who no longer have to bother with heavy, dirty coins, or to wait for slot machines to be refilled or emptied. I have to believe, though, that visitors tend to gamble more money this way: once the bill ($10 minimum here, as we discovered) gets sucked out of sight, it’s very easy to forget you’re playing with real money. And players are far more likely to gamble away any remaining credits than to bother redeeming their tickets for a few dollars. Not to mention that the tickets, which are as good as cash inside the casino, can be lost or simply forgotten and unredeemed.

For those who feel nostalgic for the festive clink-clink-clinking, I was amused to note that Mohegan Sun’s slot machines will simulate the telltale payout sounds when printing the electronic tickets. I still miss those logo-emblazoned plastic buckets, grubby as they were, in which in visits past, I used to haul home weeks and weeks worth of laundry money.

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