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Folding a Letter-size Sheet into 3 x 5 Inch Shape – Single Pocket January 31, 2008

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, filing, H-PDA, Hipster PDA, history, how to, index cards, information management, lifehack, Moleskine, Origami, Other, Wordpress.

I was chatting earlier this week with prairieflounder, and I mentioned that WordPress had upped the capacity for individual blogger accounts to three gigabytes. I noted that I had purchased some extra capacity from WordPress last year, because I was moving quickly up towards the limit. Pf pointed out that he hadn’t noticed a lot of pictures here. That’s because there are a couple of different types of people who visit this site. Most of the visitors I get are still people looking at folding diagrams, believe it or not. About 90 percent, on average. And the people who don’t visit for those pics, tend not to even notice them.

And that’s O.K., but here’s another post for the 90 percent.

My first funded year in graduate school I ended up grading papers for a brilliant-if-cranky professor who, despite being only 35ish, still took notes on 3 x 5 cards. I’ve noticed that a lot of the history professors who attended top-ten schools (which he did) do this, and I even know one attending a top-ten school right now, who uses 3 x 5 cards. The guy I worked for would often photocopy articles, however, and cut out the relevant sections, parts of a work that he might later cite or quote in his own work, for example, and tape them to a 3 x 5 card, folding them several times, if need be, so that they would fit in his 3 x 5 file.

Yeah, it didn’t look all that elegant. It was pretty messy, actually. But the guy wasn’t all that elegant himself; he was well-published and highly regarded, however.

It has troubled me for some time that there is no elegant way of folding a normal (in the US) 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper so that it stays nice and flat and can be filed away with the rest of your 3 x 5 cards.

Until now, that is. This method is so simple that I hesitated to post it. It is based on the simplest and most common letterfold. But I can’t seem to find any posts of it anywhere else, so here you go:

Start with an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper (all of the pix below expand into their own, larger, window when you click upon them with a mouse or similar rodent). This is especially nice paper made by Gold Fiber, which is not only a pleasing and frightfully absorbent texture, but has lines on one side and a grid on the other. Notebook paper doesn’t get much nicer than this, I’m afraid.


Put a 3 x 5 inch index card in the middle of it, roughly, and fold the top down so that it looks like this:


Then fold the top down, like this:


You want all of these folds to hug the index card as closely as you can. Next, fold the bottom up like this:


Then fold one side in over the card like this:


And then the other, like this:


Then take the card out and unfold the whole thing so that it looks like this:


Fold the top and bottom towards the center so that it forms a flattened tube eight and a half inches wide, and then tuck whichever side is smaller into the inside of the tube on the opposite side, which will, presumably, be larger and more accommodating. In this case, the right side was slightly larger. One side always is, for some reason.


Then, keep sliding it in until the whole thing is flat. If done perfectly, it will be only slightly larger than a 3 x 5 index card, so that not only will it hold index cards itself, it will still fit into files that hold index cards of that size, or even the cool little pocket in a moleskine notebook, like this one.


Not that this history professor could have been bothered to make things tidy like this. But you like to keep things neat.

DIY 5-pocket Index Card Wallet for Hipster PDAs April 19, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, lifehack, Other.

I just got a promotion of sorts at work and will be managing a few people in addition to doing research and writing and random other stuff now, so I found myself thinking about time management a little this morning.  I still use index cards to manage my own time and to take notes for writing projects and such.  And I’m always testing new ways of carrying them around an organizing them.  The last one of these I designed, the six-pocket version works pretty well, and I’ve been carrying note cards in it, and using it as my wallet, for weeks.  The only problem with it was that I had to do too much unfolding to get at my debit card, a suprisingly frequent occurance these days.  So I designed a five-pocket version that is much easier to use everyday, because the part of the folder that holds my bank card is always right there on the outside, and yet there is no danger of the card slipping out. 

Step 1: start with a piece of 13 x 13 inch paper.  This sounds more difficult than it is.  The most durable papers in the world are readily available in this size, if you know where to look.  You just need to find a large manila or Tyvek ™ envelope, cut the bottom and top out, slice out the middle, and unfold it. 

Step 2: mark the paper with a faint line 1 3/4 inches in from two opposing sides and then 2 3/4 inches in from another side, as depicted below (click picture to enlarge). 


Step 3: Flip the sheet over and fold the opposing sides in, creasing on the lines. 


Step 4: Fold the bottom up, creasing on the line.


Step 5: Insert the top into the slot made by the bottom folds and crease the whole thing again (this operation is shown in a side view in steps 4 and 5 of the instructions for this folder.


Step 6: Using an index card as a guide, fold in three roughly-equal parts and crease (I don’t know what that shadow is all about.)


That’s all.  See how the bank card fits and is accessible but totally safe?


I use the same pocket for a list of phone numbers.  And a pen with a clip can be used to make sure it doesn’t unfold, if you want. 


After a few days it will pretty much stay shut anyway.

DIY 6-pocket Index Card Wallet for Hipster PDAs-Side-opening Version March 5, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, lifehack, Origami, Other.

People seldom comment on my paper-folding posts, although they still form the bulk of the traffic on this blog most days.  It still surprises me when someone comments.  This last weekend I got a comment from someone calling herself Charo that made me think a little.  Charo writes:

Hi there! I found your post while I was searching the web for an origami pocket briefcase. I must say, your idea is just what I was looking for! :)

I made the dimensions a bit wider, using a page from a size B4 sketch pad. I now use the outside pockets to keep addresses and blank sheets, organized with index card tabs. I use the inside pockets for my calendar and todo stuff. :)

I’m now thinking if there’s a way to turn this into a six-pocket holder :D

Six pockets, I thought to myself.  That’s a lot of pockets.  Maybe too many pockets.  But it is not for me to judge.  It is for me to give the people what they want.  This one is for Charo.

Like 95% of people in the world, Charo uses ISO-dimension paper.  I don’t have any, but I wish I did.  This design works much better with A3 paper.  Anyway, for those using the idiotic US-UK-Canadian dimensions, start with a piece of 11 x 17 inch paper. 

Step 1–Mark about two inches from each of the short sides.  Fold these toward the center and crease (N.B.: click images to enlarge).


Step 2–fold one of the long sides in slightly less than an inch toward the center and crease.


Step 3–Fold the other short side so that it meets the crease that you just made and crease that fold.  Here’s a side view of that:


Step 4–Step 5–Tuck the section you just made into the other one.


Step 5–Do it carefully to avoid tearing the paper and it will look like this when you are done.


Step 6–Then fold the short sides towards one another and crease in the middle and the unfold.


Step 7–Then fold each of the short sides towards the middle and crease. 


And step 8:


It opens up like this and has six pockets for index cards. 


And you can clip a pen to it, just like the other design:


Thanks for the idea, Charo!

DIY 4-pocket Index Card Wallet for Hipster PDAs-Side-opening Version February 6, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, information management, lifehack, Origami, Other.

It occurred to me yesterday when posting that this Index Card Wallet could be folded vertically or horizontally, depending on one’s preference.  So here are instructions for the side-folding version.

Step 1–Start with a piece of 14 x 8.5 inch paper (mine has printed stuff on the side facing down, so that the steps are easier to follow.  I use relatively heavy paper, 32 lb., so that it is opaque.)  Mark one inch from each of the long sides.


Step 2–Fold these toward the center and crease.


Step 3–fold one of the short sides in 3 1/4 inch toward the center and crease.


Step 4–Fold the other short side so that it meets the crease that you just made and crease that fold.


Step 5–Tuck the section you just made into the other one as shown in this side view:


Step 6–Do it carefully to avoid tearing the paper and it will look like this when you are done.


Step 7–Just fold the short sides towards one another (top to bottom side in the diagram above) and you are done.  It has four pockets for index cards:


And you can clip a pen to it, just like the other design:


DIY 4-pocket Index Card Wallet for Hipster PDAs February 5, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, information management, lifehack, Origami, Other.

It has been a while since I have posted a new practical origami design.  So I present the four-pocket (two verticle pockets, two horizontal) Hipster PDA index card wallet.  It may be the simplest and most useful design yet.

Step 1: Take a piece of legal-size (8.5 inch by 14 inch) paper and mark a spot 1 3/4 inches from the short edge.  N.B.: I have printed on one side to make the drawings easier to follow.


Step 2: Flip it over, fold the short sides in, and crease them at the marks.  Then fold one side 2 inches in from the long side (I know this should be a separate step, but I forgot to take a picture of that step.  So sue me.)


Step 3: Fold the other side down so that it meets the crease you made in the other long side.


Step 4: Insert the longer of the two sides (the one you just got done folding) into the shorter one (it has to go inside so that it is self-locking.)


Step 5: Fold the short sides so that they meet.  It should look like this with a pen clipped to it:


And it has four pockets, like I said before. 


So there you go.

See some other designs here.

Index card stuff on Squidoo January 20, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Hipster PDA, how to, index cards, lifehack, Origami, Other, web 2.0.
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My Hipster PDA stuff and index card stuff, which is filed permanently here under the origami page (see the header, above) got a mention, just barely, kind-of, I think, on a squidoo lens.  Plus it has plexo, whatever that is, yet another wrinkle in social networking that I don’t seem to have the brain cells to understand.

At least it has the word “squid” in it.  So there’s that.

How to carry a pencil, and why January 2, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Hipster PDA, how to, lifehack, Other, writing.

[Warning: The following post contains irony and possibly even sarcasm, although it is not intended to offend.] 

Sometimes I visit sites where people post stuff about Hipster-PDAs and other organizational methods involving index cards or other low-tech hacks.  I notice that people have very strong opinions about what types of pens to carry and had heretofore decided to remain mum.  I’d never found one that really did everything.  And recently I started carrying a pencil.  Pens just seem to find inconvenient times to leak or run out of ink.

I know, you are going to suggest the space pen.  So hang on.  I gave the space pen a good honest try.  I did.  My paternal Grandfather was heavily involved in the space program and worked for NASA, and it is kinda cool looking, etc.  I know, I know, it has special powers.  I has thixotropic ink that is hermetically sealed in its pressurized barrel.  Its shelf-life is like 100 years.  It writes several times longer than most ball-point pens.  It writes at an altitude of 12,000 feet or something.  But I get a wicked headache at that altitude and don’t feel like writing.  It writes at extreme temperatures, but I try to avoid these.  My hands easily get too cold to write.  And I live in Massachusetts, so it doesn’t get past 100 degrees very often.  And, usually, when I am under water I don’t, for whatever reason, have a pocket in which to carry a pen.  When in the rain I am usually on my way to someplace dry.  And the last time I was upside-down I was a little too busy to write, and stuff slips out of my pockets when I am upside down anyway. 

Plus, the space pen just doesn’t write well.  The ink may be thixotropic, but it also gums up and sometimes skips–not a lot, just enough to be annoying.  And the pen itself is kind of heavy and clinks against the keys and spare change I keep in my pocket.

I switched to a pencil because I heard that urban myth about the supposedly costly development of the space pen and how those smart-yet-poor Soviets simply used pencils.  A neat story, but apparently was also completely wrong on most factual details, as well as its general theme and upshot.  (I found all this out here, which is confirmed by Snopes.  More than good enough, in my book.)  Should’ve known, I guess.  It doesn’t really make sense to sharpen pencils in space, you’d have all of those shavings floating around, for one. 

But I still use a pencil, even now that I know the truth.  I really only carry it for those rare times when I’m someplace without another writing implement.  At my desk at work I use pens, usually.  And I use a number of different types depending on whether the writing needs to be permanent, legible to others, or whatever.  I just never really write enough notes in these circumstances for it to lose its point.  Sometime the marks smudge (not too much if you use “F” or harder leads) but these are notes.  They are not meant to be beautiful and permanent.  You can even use them to make marginalia in your own books, which if done lightly will be erasable.

The only difficulty was what to do about the fact that carrying a sharp pencil with you can lead to accidents.  I shudder every time I remember that Sandra Bullock movie “While You Were Sleeping,” in which it is revealed that the character played by Peter Gallagher had lost a testicle playing basketball with another attorney who had a pencil in his back pocket.  And I have my own experience with pencil-related accidents.  When I was in 6th grade I had a pencil in my back pocket and jammed my hand into it while running.  I had to pick the lead out of the heel of my hand, and there is a small, blue, graphite tattoo there today, almost three decades later (see picture below). 

bluedot-copy.jpg (Click to enlarge picture)

All you need is a cap of some sort for the pencil, though, some sort of tube that is just the right size, and you are on your way.   They are a little difficult to find in just the right size, though.  The pencil below is capped with a pencil point cap that I bought (actually I bought a bag of them–they are cheap, but difficult to find) from Dick Blick Art supplies.  They were less than a dollar a piece.  They now carry some plastic ones made by General that are like 10 cents a piece.

dbcap.jpg (Click to enlarge picture)

But you can save yourself the trouble of ordering these and simply adapt a pen cap to fit your pencil with this slick rubber-band trick.

Materials needed:

  1. Pencil
  2. Small rubber band
  3. Pen cap (Most types will work.  I have used the Bic Crystal (shown below), the Papermate, Bic Stick and others)

kit.jpg (Click to enlarge picture)

Take the rubber band and wrap it around the pencil like this:

  1. Loop the rubberband around the pencil. 
  2. Twist it so that it makes an “8.”
  3. Loop the free half of the “8” around the pencil. 
  4. Pull it and twist another “8.” 
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you almost run out of rubberband.

Note how I started about two inches away from the point and wrapped it until I had a little loop to put around the end where the wood is exposed. 

shownrb.jpg (Click to enlarge picture)

Then put the cap on.  If you put it on in such a way that the little clip thing is directly opposite the side of the pencil on which the rubberband loop ends, then it won’t look crooked when you push the cap on. 

fininshed2.jpg (Click to enlarge picture)

For those people, those of you who seem to constitute the bulk of my readership, the ones who are surfing the Hipster-PDA tags, or index cards and that sort of thing, I just want you to know that I have been known to link to the sites of the people who actually take the time to comment on my stuff.  Just in case you didn’t realize that.

Alternative Index Card Folder Design for Hipster PDAs December 29, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Hipster PDA, how to, lifehack, Origami, Other.

For those of you who want something slightly different from all of those paper folders for index cards that you have begun to see all over the place, thanks to this site, here is an alternative design that I just discovered.  It is simple to fold, and a little more rigid, but must be folded from paper that is a little larger than standard size.  For the model below I used a very nice, heavy, ivory sheet of 11 x 17 inch paper that I cut down to 9 x 14 inches.

Lay the sheet flat like this.


Then fold the longer sides together, but only crease the left half.  Then open back up so it looks like this.


Then fold the two left corners even with the crease, like this.


Next, fold the bottom half up evenly.  The bottom fold should be slightly more than three inches deep, to accomodate the index cards, like this.


Then fold the top part down, so that it meets the crease at the bottom, being particularly careful to ensure that the right side is not taller than the left (because you will soon stuff the left side into the right, which is nearly impossible to do if the right side is smaller than the left).  Like this.


Then fold the right side toward the left and crease it.  You want to make sure that the left part is wider than five inches, so it will be wider than the green index card.  You want the right, folded, side to be somewhat smaller than that, which is why the blue index card is wider than the folded part.


Now fold the pointy part on the left over so that it is even with the crease on the right, like this.


Crease that and then unfold.  Put the pointy left part inside the slot in the right part and slide it in all the way.


The picture below shows the above model turned 90 degrees to the right, with index cards slipped into it and a sharpie parked there as well. 


Pretty nice, huh?

Name that Blog December 21, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, bookmooch, Books, Constructivism, Education, Hipster PDA, how to, librarything, lifehack, Lowell, luck or time, Market Research, Massachusetts Drivers, Origami, Other, statistical analysis, web 2.0, writing.

Davidbdale brought to my attention yesterday, late at night, when I had already had a particularly difficult day, the fact that there is a blog called “as a blog returns to its vomit” which is run by a pastor, somewhere in the Midwest, probably.  Why did this bring me even lower?  Well, david saw this blog, which does not even have an open comment thread, in WordPress’s list of fast-growing blogs and thought that it was mine.  (No, david, mine’s the blog that’s hardly growing at all.)  And it bothered me because I really should have thought about the name a little more before I started this thing, and I should have checked for others using the name, or variants thereof.

In an earlier post I said that I was thinking about making some changes to this thing, more drastic ones than the accretive ones and annoying changes of backgrounds and themes that I normally make.  Well, let’s add a name change to the list.  The name of this blog doesn’t really reflect the content of the site, or the community that reads it, or really anything important.  And pastor whatever-his-name-is seems to have gotten the name first anyway (in March, I think.)

So I am changing the name temporarily to Pro Tempore (another nod to davidbdale, who needles me about my use of Latin).  This will not affect any links that you have made to this blog.  They will still appear as the original name and will still link here, because I am not changing the URL.  But as the name implies, this is a temporary measure.  I would really like some suggestions as to what to call this thing going forward (accordingly, I have tagged it with most of the tag categories I normally use, so that people who read this tag-surfing will get a chance to chime in here.)

So, tell me what to call this blog.  The prize will be, I don’t know yet.  Suggest something for that too.  I’d like to hear from everybody who reads it.  That means you too, Mom, Dad.  And I’d particularly like to hear from those of you with descriptive names that seem to work so well for your blogs.  That would be davidbdale, whose blog name describes exactly the content of his site, as does strugglingwriter’s, prairie flounder’s and some of the others on my blogroll.

When you don’t have a ruler December 6, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Hipster PDA, how to, lifehack, Origami, Other.
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Because of yesterday’s post you know how to fold a piece of 7 x 8.5 inch piece of paper into a self-locking 3 x 5 inch rectangle (with little corners chopped off).  But most paper in the U.S. is 11 inches long.  And nobody carries a ruler around, right?  Well, luckily, you always carry a few 3 x 5 inch index cards around (well some of you do, the ones I’m writing this for do).  With a couple of simple folds you can make your own ruler.

Step 1:  Fold one corner down like this:

Step 2: Fold the opposite side down until it meets the edge of the corner you just folded down.

Step 3: Unfold it.  That second fold creases the index card at exactly 4 inches from the opposite side.  Just use that to measure 4 inches from one end of a piece of paper and lop it off (or crease it and tear it off) the paper and you have just the right size to fold into a 3 x 5 rectangle.

Or turn it around and repeat the process and you’ll have a makeshift 5-inch ruler.  The folds on one side should be very close to one-inch apart.