Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Well. That was illuminating.

It's remarkable, really, how little I've thrown over the past year.

But much like the point of this little endeavor, the idea of making every string count...I've made every throw count. I think I used a total of 7 strings during Worlds. Seven. In years past, that wouldn't have gotten me from check-in to my room. I used to be obsessive about changing strings the moment they lost their bounce. I was the guy who could burn a hundred strings a day and think nothing of it.

Now? Now I'll switch yo-yos rather than change strings, in the hopes that the next time I pick that one up the string doesn't seem "so bad" to me.

I don't know how many strings I've used off this cone, but I do know that the idea of going back to pre-tied string seems kinda weird to me. The cone just feels more natural to me now. Although I really do need a cone of Type 8 cotton so that I can use my Loop 900s. The Type 10 works fine on Loop 720s but my newly beloved 900s got the shortest honeymoon ever when I realized that string off this cone doesn't work at all.

It's been an interesting year. A busy year, for sure. A difficult year? Oh, you have no idea. But it's always been interesting.

I originally had some kind of romantic notion that I was going to post weekly updates and videos and blah blah but such things fall by the wayside quickly when life gets hectic. It's weird some point I get really in to reading Ed and Jacob's progress and began viewing the project as a spectator. My own daily life had so little yo-yo content that I barely considered myself a participant in Cones To Balls. I was the guy who had the cones...that seemed to be the only role I was able to fulfill with any regularity.

I'm sticking with my cone, though. Feels right. Feels natural.

Feels good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Day

It has been unusually hard to keep this blog up-to-date.

I refuse to believe it's because I'm too busy. "If you want something done, give it to a busy person." -BM I will concede that I have been less than
enthusiastic about putting something new on the blog.

I suppose part of the reason is that I cannot play yo-yo and play computer at the same time.

Another factor is that "making every throw count" can't happen if I'm trying to translate the transcending feeling into words on the Internet. Siddhartha's conversation with Buddha (Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse) was really vague, but it revolved around ones "divine revelation" is never the same as the experience of another, and the method of arrival to said experience is even more varied than the experience itself.

Sometimes I'm just playing yo-yo, totally zoned out, and completely happy. Others, I'm consumed by new elements or composition or compilations. Others, I'm frustrated.

But I have changed a bad habit: I only throw a yo-yo when I have an idea of what I want to do. I don't throw blindly and make it up. I see a mental image of the trick or just call out a trick name (ala Street Fighter), and do it the best I can, with any extra criteria or stipulations I set forth.

It's hard. Sometimes I have to put the yo-yo down until I know what I want to do. But I just want to play with toys! (2A is as close to "mindless" as I get. If you read back, 2A is far from mindless with this thick string)

The yo-yo I have been playing most recently is my white Velocity without shuttles. It just has really deeply-recessed pads. I think it's about 45 grams, but it's most all rim-weight. It plays as well as some of my metal yo-yos. I even like the color ;)

But my year will up in a few days, just like Ed's. I'm not going to stop playing this string: I have gotten too used to it. That and I'm out of other string because I gave most of it away. I still have half of a cone, and that gives me about another year to find a good enough replacement. The toilet paper roll effect will kick in, and I will conserve my string more as it makes its way to the ball.

But I'm very happy with what this project has done for me. I wish I could reciprocate a fraction of it, but I don't know the right words or ways to bring up the feelings.

This isn't goodbye: I will make more posts when I think of something both tangible and meaningful. Talk soon

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Year

thursday will be one year. in 3 days will have fulfilled my 'obligation', both to the cone and to the project. that said, it feels decidedly unlike an 'arrival' (maybe that would be different had i actually updated this blog with any substantial consistency). i'm just on the path, and i'm gonna do my best to stay in the middle of it.

i love playing yo-yo. i love it even more with this string. when i started this journey a year ago, i thought that it would be a challenge, and in some respects it has been... but not in the way that i assumed. i thought i would grow to detest the ritual of winding and cutting and twisting, and that i would get sick of the thick, unwieldy material (and no lie, it can feel like razor-wire on humid summer days). but no... by and large, this project has been a dream, and without a doubt, i will be continuing to use the cone (AND the 'backup' i have for whenever this one has finally tapped out) until i'm positively empty... at which point i'll probably seek for another source.

there is nothing like being in touch with what you're doing. as i've said several times, it's SO easy to yank a string off a skein and go that the process contributes nothing to your yo-yoing. i'm sure some would argue that putting a string on the yo-yo 'need not' contribute to one's play, but it does for me. the 'real' trick begins before the throw down and continues after the yo-yo whacks the flesh of your palm. much like a pianist might say that the meaning is found in the rests and not the notes, there is much more to yo-yoing than the sum of the individual maneuvers that you perform. this process has demanded that i take a minute before i throw. sometimes i have to twist a new string, but more often as i'm creating the slipknot and feel the thick texture of the cotton or the quality of the square-knot i've tied, i just take a moment to silently recognize what i'm about to do. 'cones to balls' has brought a reflective consistency upon which i've begun to rely, and i cannot imagine how incomplete my play would feel devoid of this momentary appreciation for the apparently trivial process of string-twisting.

i've heard a hundred times over that polyester string is superior. a visit to yields this gem, which i think accurately reflects the community's mindset: "Good Yo-Yo string is essential if you want to get the most out of your yo-yo. Luckily we have come a far way from the basic cotton strings your grandfathers had."

i respectfully object to this sentiment on a number of levels. for one, i don't believe that the 'quality' of our grandfathers' play was implicitly inferior to ours. obviously, any number of today's tricks would be virtually impossible, given their materials (or actually impossible - believe me, i've tried rancid milk on wood axle A LOT) . however, with alarming casualty, yo-yoers throw out the suggestion that our play is somehow 'worth more' than that of our predecessors. i think that's a load of crap, and don't believe for a second that the quality of our play is dictated by our materials. as always, it's a product one's of diligence, joy, and commitment to the craft. there's no common denominator to compare, but are we really to believe that the complexity which we've created is more fulfilling and powerful than what barney akers did with his modest tools? in another 40 years, yoyofactory's 'motorized' yo-yo prototype may have completely rewritten the scope of 'what's possible'. but to assume that this development would somehow devalue our efforts in the present would be as depressing as it would be fallacious. good yo-yoing is yo-yoing that complements its moment; that makes it a little brighter, a little more interesting or carefree.

a good yo-yo is a yo-yo that you're inspired to pick up and play, no matter what it's made of or what's inside it. ditto with string. i'm not an eco-obsessed, organic-produce-buying nutri-dad... but i like the idea that the soft, fibrous material along which my fingers slide was once alive - was once effectively a flower. yo-yoing is the practice of creation; of living, growing, evolving. the resonance of a wooden yo-yo humming against a cotton string fills me with an explosive appreciation for that fact. polyester is just dead to me... so to speak.

i don't mean to be preachy, and i don't care what you play. i like to really think about my yo-yoing; to evaluate not only my tricks and technique but my approach and mindset as well. this project has given me an impetus for questioning and for deconstructing myself, and that, to me, is the real 'marrow' of yo-yoing, and growing more attuned to it has been more valuable than any breakout or tutorial could be.

as far as regrets, it's easy to say that i should have spent more time updating this blog. it was a commitment, one in which (in some respects) i've failed... but the real commitment has been in the practice of twisting string; in seeing the 'life' of a string from its source as cotton thread, through its days spent in [mainly] joyful play, and finally its demise, laid to rest among its peers within the ball.

to heft the ball now feels surreal. the once-white threads now clasp the beautiful filth of a year (or 362 days anyway), one like all years, full of laughter and pain. while throwing one of these strings i was agonizing over the details of my return to teaching (which is going splendidly thanks). while solving the chinese calculus that setting this stuff up for loopers has been, i've concurrently watched my son learn to talk, climb, and pee in the potty and listened as my daughter has transitioned from barely coherent knock-knocks to hilarious, biting sarcasm. secured within the ball are strings i've thrown during 3 trips to disney world (we like disney world)... strings thrown by world and national champions and at the home of john higby... strings i've used to entertain 5-year-olds who could not possibly care what distinguishes rancid milk from pure 143... strings i've thrown in one-stoplight appalachian mountain towns and knee-deep in the atlantic ocean... strings i've thrown in anger and impatience and strings i've thrown with momentary grace and serenity to which i have little right.

though i cannot fully explain why, i know that i'm a better yo-yoer and a better person for having participated in this, and it feels good to have seen it through (even if i do like the string enough to keep with it). my thanks to my conical brothers, steve and j-def, and to anyone who ever read any of this stuff and thought for a second about their own yo-yoing and all that it means.

it means a great deal.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Happy Birthday G5"

This is the first real yo-yo trick video that I have done with only 5A. This is also one of the only ones I did not add music to. That decision was due to indecision, and the fact that I don't know how to go about getting music rights.

I feel like I am playing with my yo-yo, like along side it, how you would play with a friend. Not just using a certain toy to play in general.

Spin energy transfer was brought to you by Cones to Balls string :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

White Yo-yos

I have this thing for white yo-yos. They are just so pretty.

I have had more memorable yo-yos that where white than any other color. Some that come to mind are my Velocity, a bearing-ized Butterfly (until I broke it), and one of the espionage 401k's (sup Ed?). I don't know what it is, but I like white yo-yos.

Now I have a Nimbus that is white.


Maybe not a very good paint job...

But I like it.

Oh, uh... about that purple string there...
Yeah, the gap was closed even more and made rough by painting it. Ummm... yeah, I can't explain that away. You caught me. Using the fat Cone string on this narrow gap is intolerable.

I'll make it up, promise.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wait a bit...

It's August the 8th... (more than a month since the last post, sorry)

I started this project in October. That's only two months~ish away...

i has a sad

A year is almost up? I know Worlds snuck up on me this summer, but have I really spent that much time playing all-cotton strings?

I was thinking about trying some more thin-gapped yo-yos once this cone ran out, but I'm not ready for it yet.

Ed is a lifer, so he doesn't have this same mindset (even though his year is up in only one month). Steve probably has better things to do and another three cones in his attic or packed away somewhere. I have been using strings faster than either of my companions, and I still have another two years or so (judging by the diameter, not the diminishing circumference). But this is still the home stretch, and we are about to be "done"? This is the same feeling that I got graduating from high school.

I don't know if I will actually change anything after the year is up. Maybe get some more slick 8, if anybody carries it still. I have absentmindedly broken the 15-strings-at-a-time rule by having one on all of my yo-yos at once. I like the process, and don't want to make a bundle of strings ahead of time to take them out of a bundle. It would feel like cheating.

...have I made every throw count?

I don't think so. I have played more holistically, but in retrospect, I could have done more. I let distractions grip me, and have narry a new "real" video made (but one in the works). I have a month to catch up, and another month to dwell on it. I will keep updates coming.

WORLDS, shaving, and the future...

the great dilemma of our time: do i bring the cone and ball down? just the cone? should i just pretwist a few strings?

i'm not competing (i mean besides ladder, fixed axle, and pink slip... and maybe in some 'eating dares'), so i don't have a great need for my string to be at its 'highest level of performance'. honestly, the way this stuff lasts, i could probably swing worlds with one string. it would be kind of cool though to reunite the cones (and/or balls - lol). steve's coming, and i assume he'll bring his. no worlds for you this year, j-def? that's where you were at when last we talked.

i've always wanted to roll up to worlds with essentially one yo-yo and minimal clothing/toiletries. my first time down, i brought this mammoth box full of yo-yo's, and it was just this ridiculous anchor for the whole weekend. since that experience, i kind of dare myself to underpack in the extreme for contests. this is at odds with the general truth that i'm a man who likes access to his 'peripherals'.

in other news, special thanks go out to that mos def of deffenbaughs for turning me on (back) to 720s for 2a. i hadn't tried a pair since switching to type 10, which laughs cruelly at most looping yo-yo's. these however, work splendidly, and after near on 10 months of spitting, hissing, and biting, i finally have 2 pairs of 2-handers that do what i want them to do (the others being a set of clean machines for which i finally solved the gap equation). i have to say, i also miss the kind of 'suicide-consistency' that only polyester provides. i'm the first to admit that with good technique, you can nail suicides on virtually any yo-yo with virtually any string. but while poly will give you some string-tension 'fudge-room', if you're not close-to-neutral, type 10 cotton gives you basically no window at all.

i'm still undecided on what my string plans will be come october. ain't no way i'll run out of this stuff by then. i've definitely evolved toward the mindset that yo-yo string is SUPPOSED to be white (call me an antiquated string-racist if you must). the practical perspective is that white goes with all my clothes AND is nicely visible. i've never cared for that ultra-white poly string though (i find it too thin), so i'm virtually assured at this point to stick with white cotton. i miss the plug-n-play ease of type 8 with wood and loopers, but i think pulling a string off a skein will feel distinctly alien now, and i'm afraid the string will seem limp and insubstantial by comparison.

to go back to 'peripherals' for a minute, i started shaving with an old-timey safety razor a few weeks back. since buying it, i shave every morning. before, it had become something that i would do only after reaching a level of scuzziness that could no longer be politely ignored by society. however, i've finally embraced the ritual after abandoning the series of 'nice' modern, multi-bladed razors that are designed to make shaving 'easy'. my safety razor was designed circa 1930, and i can remember watching my grandfather use one exactly like it. it's heavy and shiny and it will carve your neck like an easter ham if you handle it sans attention. i WANT to be the kind of person who maintains attention. i think the prospect of needing to maintain attention while shaving is, ITSELF what has driven me to shave daily since buying this device. i WANT to care about little rituals and give my mind up to tiny details and not just sloppily rake a 5-Blade Mach 5 Turbo-Power across my face until all the hair is gone. i WANT to be someone who appreciates and accepts the consequences should my attention break down.

and, it occurs to me, that's also why i like this string. and why, i expect, when my year is up, i'll be sticking with it. BECAUSE of its inherent difficulties (and not despite them), i'm a more attentive, focused player. and that's worth hanging on to.

see you at worlds!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Break

So I got some new yo-yos (thanks ed).

This pair of wood-colored Hummingbirds are just up my alley. The gap is wide enough to allow looping with this old-school string (while double-looped), and just challenging enough to play single-looped.

But I broke a pair of strings on them within an hour.
These strings didn't break at the finger-loop, nor at the axle where the friction is usually the greatest. Instead, the strings broke at the outer diameter where the gap starts. The same place that would touch the ground during walk-the-dog. This is a place that I have never broken one of these strings at.

"Stop this Train" was playing in the background. I want strings to last longer with these new yo-yos. The song is reminding me that I don't need them to. It's just fine, and it's worth it.

I suppose the subtle hum from sending a loop out has a price.

But it's still so bittersweet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

where ah'm at.

the project continues. naught to report but continued glee. month by month, i continue to get my no jives more and more dialed to this stuff... when it finally runs out i'll be at a loss for what to do.

oh, and on that note...

yeah... kinda gonna be awhile before i'm 'out'. yup... new cone on deck... don't ask - not telling! ;)
cones-to-balls [literally] forever!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I lied

My freestyle from BAC was getting put online as I posted about not finding it. pffffffft

And this string works wonderfully for 2a. Just got a pair of LOOP720's. Best fun ever.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Putting Strings Away

I have this bad habit of letting dead strings accumulate before I put in the time to wind them into the ball. This is almost the opposite mindset this project was created for. Here I am pictured putting what must be eight or ten strings after saving them until I found the motivation to wind them up.
I don't get the immediate feedback of the work each string actually is, which makes them energetically "cheaper". Want another string? OK, done. It's wrong, and I want to stop.

I also gave away a string yesterday. I let little kids (5 and 7 years old) play with my yo-yo, and little kids have unbearably grubby hands, and utterly destroyed the string with gunk within a few minutes. They didn't notice how bad the string felt, as they were having fun learning a sleeper. But I would not even want to hang on to the disgusting string long enough to put it in the ball. So I made a gift out of the mucky, stiff, gooey, and positively revolting string. I would have paid the kids to take it, but they even said "thanks".

I got to go to California this past weekend, and didn't bring my ball of strings (I was packing light). The ones I am winding are ones used on the trip. There was some contest (BAC) that weekend super-close to where my family was, and I gave the 5A freestyle of my life.

Unfortunately, I don't think it was filmed, or it's nowhere to be found online. I even got filmed by Gabe, which was a secret life dream, got complimented by lots on non-yo-yoers, drew crowds with silly tricks, realized Augie Fash is really a superstar, and even gave contact info out to somebody that works at a museum that liked my freestyle. The last guy needed permission to use the footage they got from the freestyle in a documentary that will try to make yo-yoing more athletic, and get it into the Olympic sports. And had some GREAT apple curry.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's not a cliche when it happens to you...

For those of us that play yo-yo, a common comment from non-yo-yoers is something to the effect of the string breaking and hitting them in the face, permanently ruining their looks and life.

Some people are straight up, stereotypical drama queens.

But some people are right.
This is one of the managers at my store, Ms. Ohara. She was about to walk out of the door and do some work, whilst I played yo-yo in the same hallway we are depicted in. The string on my Pulse was old, and 2A stresses the strings most out of any play style.

In the middle of a hop, the string DID break at the slipknot, and the yo-yo flew in slow motion towards the exiting Ms. Ohara. Just as she turns to reach for the doorknob, the yo-yo makes it's impact with an assertive "slap".

She turns to me, my cringed face already twisted in guilt, because not an hour before this event, I told her not to worry about the yo-yo hitting anybody.

But then we both start laughing, because it couldn't have hurt that much, and I couldn't have been more wrong about assuring her it's safe to be around yo-yos.

I can post more now, because I'm not in school right now (can't you tell?). The other gentlemen do not have the option to get out of Dad-manship, so we will see how much we see of them.

weird skillz

@J-Def, i do the EXACT same thing lately. at first i was hyper-religious about getting the strings onto the ball sans delay, but now i'll walk around my yo-yo room (i have one) and step over like 8 discarded strings before i get to the cone. and then when it gets to be too unbearable (read: when my wife tells me to clean up), i have a little 15 minute ball party. i need to get better about that for sure. it feels more meaningful to me when done right away; like the difference between a proper funeral and a mass grave.

anyway... when i started this project with steve, i remember him saying excitedly 'and just think... in a year, we'll be like the only guys under 60 who can twist our own string in just a few seconds!' it's funny... you do get good at it. the first few times, it probably took me 5 minutes to make sure everything was in order and nothing was kinked or crazy. now, it takes me about 45 seconds.

it got me thinking about other obscure skills i've accumulated. i'm 33 years old, and i can...

• fold a japanese hakama with traditional knot
• snap-start into sidewinder (hi, steve).
• set up an upright bass.
• build and light a PERFECT charcoal pyramid
• boneless over a small child standing (or a fat child lying down).
• orient myself via the constellations.
• diagram the hell out of essentially any sentence.
• field-strip, clean, and polish a katana
• beat you in a triceratops drawing contest (but not in any other sort of drawing contest)
• peel an orange in one strip.
• hit BLAHBLAH on a no jive.
• change a nasty poopy diaper with 3 baby wipes or less.
• dislocate/relocate my left shoulder.
• properly apply/remove wax to/from a surfboard.
• reliably impale a pizza box with a knife from 10m.
• take ridiculously good care of hydrangeas.

and yet i canNOT:
• change my own oil or replace my brakes (tires, yes).
• beat super mario bros, sonic the hedgehog, or altered beast.
• clean/gut a fish.
• score under 100 in 18 holes of golf (actually... probably even in 9).
• run anywhere of my own volition without being actively pursued.
• land a frontside 180 kickflip (if it ends in flip i probably can't land it).
• tie a bow-tie.
• get my back lawn in order.
• correctly spell 'necessary' or 'commitment' without looking them up.
• do 2-handed punching bag (or honestly, even passable 1-handed).
• drive stick.
• seem to take a flattering photograph.

funny how the world carves you into an image you never expected or intended. somehow the latter list seems infinitely more useful.

BTW: these strings... do NOT do well in humidity.

BTW BTW: i'm going back to disney in like 3 weeks. YYYYYYEEEEEEAH.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Eclipse

Like ed said in the previous post, I have added enough strings to my ball to make it about the same diameter as the cone.

This image is taken with a vantage point above the cone, so the ball looks even bigger than it is. But I have compared the different dimensions of the ball (it's not quite round) to the cone diameter, and they average out to be almost exactly the same. The ball is finally eclipsing the cone.

The funny thing is this has been the truth for about twenty strings. The diameter of the ball isn't getting appreciably bigger with each string, like at the beginning. The cone is certainly starting to get smaller in diameter, though.

I know this because I measure my strings by how many winds I take off. I don't have a physical distance to measure it by (my wingspan is too short to make a long enough string). It's ten winds for a 1A string, 9 for a 5A string, and 18 or so for a pair of 2A strings. All of these have a little bit of leftover string that I usually clip off after the string is made.

The tag end of the string that I clip is all but gone in the 1A string, though. I counted how many winds the string goes around the axle on the yo-yo: it is between 20 and 16 for 1A (always depending on the gap and bearing sizes). The string is the same length that I used to make it, but less tag end is available to clip.

Once I realized this pattern, I got a little blue. I bet I still have nearly 200 strings left on the cone, but every one I twist brings me inevitably closer to having to buy some other string. I don't want to not use this string for 1A or 5A. This string can -expletive- a -removed- for 2A, it's soooooo much easier to use thinner, softer, tighter cotton-8 for looping. But I don't want to have to get used to a thinner, slower, or softer string for playing every day with.

As far as recent events, I performed at MOYO a few weeks ago. My ego was bigger than my performance, and I choked in both freestyles (shown below). I do have some stories, though.
-I usually always bring tea to contests, and toted along my water boiler, cups, and pot for everyone to enjoy. But I totally forgot the tea leaves at home. Thankfully, there was a Teavana in the nearby mall, and I got to get tea for everyone (and re-up on oolong tea, because I was running low anyway). Corporation, you saved my day.
-There was a particular contest-goer that I met (and promptly forgot his name) that was getting nervous about his turn coming up to perform. I invited him over for a little cup of tea, and told him to calm down, not think about words, and stop processing all information. Just sit, enjoy, and be happy. This evidently helped, because he gave a great freestyle, felt great afterward, and thanked me for the "magical tea". I just let him do what he was already able to.
-My name was not called in the list of 1A competitors. I had my music uploaded, and everything was in order to let me freestyle. So I got put first in the list, and gave a decent 1A performance.
(thanks, metalyoyoer)
-Someone dared me to do an aerial and a jump-spin kick, so I did. Lots of people stared, and applause was given.
-I got on stage to do my 5A routine, and Amy (from the II table) made an announcement. Evidently, there were tornadoes around, and we had to get downstairs in the caves of the City Museum. I was blamed for causing the tornadoes with the jump-spin kick. After the warnings were expired, the contest resumed, and I got to be the first freestyle for the second half of the open division. Mine is the first one in the series. Ironically enough, the music was "Riders on the Storm" by The Doors.
(thanks, stringsbytoby)
-And everyone had a great, wonderful, happy time. Most of my strings got almost unusable because of the humidity, but most everyone's string did.

Will update more later.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Order Becomes Disorder

i talked to j-def last week.
he was saying his ball is about the width of his cone.

... i got ball envy.

i guess i'm almost there, and it must just mean i go through string a little slower. i have zero idea how many i've used. maybe 120? more than ever before in my 'yo-yo life', i take my sweet time with string, but not because the twisting is inconvenient.

it occurred to me as i was twisting a string yesterday that at this point (6 months in), it doesn't feel weird or inconvenient at all. i can pull a string from the cone and have it twisted and playing great in about 30 seconds. my hands naturally lift the spool, i step on an inch of untwisted string with my big toe, placing the yo-yo another inch or so in front. to measure, i lift the spool as high as i can with both hands, then reach to my back-right pocket for my balisong and cut (quick and clean to keep the ends from fraying).

the whole process has become less 'exotic' and more of a simple concentration on daily routine. it's like a tiny prayer. it matters. being involved in the birth of each string straight through to its demise, when i bury it in the ball with its peers, reveals an interesting metaphor. inanimate though the string may be, the simple state of being cognisant of it throughout its 'life-cycle' has added a dimension to the way i interpret playing yo-yo. more and more, i recognize that when i'm out (as i will inevitably be)... i'm going to miss this process.

when i flick the yo-yo clockwise and twist the string, i work my way down every inch of the string. every twist is impregnated with my sweat and oil before i even throw. and since i'm invested in the method, every string is absolutely perfect (7 twists per inch, always). i can't imagine casually pulling a string out of a skein, ignoring its specific characteristics before playing it. admittedly, that has its own ritual, but it's one that is easily ignored, which probably accounts for peoples' tendency to throw string away if they get a kink or knot. there are no knots in this ball. i get plenty of them, but i work em all out. the strings in the ball have all met 'natural' deaths.

i find it amusing to regard the cone and ball beside each other. before it's put into play, the string is so beautiful. the ordered, overlapping triangles on the spool make for a mesmerizing little tapestry in themselves. then, after they're life is spent and they're tied back onto the ball, the strings appear thoroughly disheveled, with long expanses discolored by grease, dirt, and use; a gordian tangle, devoid of any discernible order.

it's not unlike our own lives. as we start out, the world feels clear and calm. we assume that all of our schemes and dreams will manifest themselves as planned, and that our path through life will be 'straight' or 'make sense'. as we grow, however, we begin to realize that the path has the unmistakable taste of chaos. it changes us; becomes a part of us. for a time, this truth might be upsetting as it erodes the mechanics of our precious assumptions; the sense of order upon which we've relied. however, a mature person will look at their path through life and recognize that order and disorder are just mutually relative illusions. we don't do all that we planned to do, and we do much that we would never have planned or wished, but those truths are far from unfortunate. the tone of our lives often feels less like a victorian garden and more like the amazon, but the disorder is ok - because it's home.

similarly, though the sum of the strings' experiences thoroughly destroys the appearance of order, it is no less beautiful in the end.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Doing an ed

I have found a couple of old yo-yos that, although they do not have desirable traits for high performance (like bad wiggle, the tendency to fall apart, really soft plastic, etc...), they still are mounds of fun to play with. Kinda like ed's No-Jives.

These are the yo-yos I have been carrying lately.

The 80's Butterfly has a Team Losi bearing. Same size as the Yomega bearing that is not used in any modern yo-yos (to my knowledge). OK, it's about the same size as the Peterfish ones available at work (Walgreens)... The spacers DO in fact stick out further than the plastic. This causes a string-centering effect, and does away with the string slipping into the side of the yo-yo with the 5x10x4 bearing it was modded to take. This yo-yo fell apart while doing a 3D Eli Hop, because it does not twist together very tightly. I lost one of the spacers, but thankfully I (by way of sacrificing dozens of yo-yos I don't even remember having) had a spare.

The Team Losi 'da Bombs are what I have been using to loop. Finding a pair of loopers and keeping them tuned properly is by far the most difficult part of this entire project. I found (in the same vial of yo-yo guts as the replacement spacer) wider wood axles to go in them, which is evidently exactly what I needed. They work wonderfully, even with the huge gap that is needed for the thicker strings. I can almost do Tangler with them.

Speaking of, I also broke a string at the axle-side (like ed did) trying to do Tangler. I have broken dozens of strings at the finger-loop, but this is the first one that went KABLOOEY like ed's [soul] around the axle. You can see the charred end of the string against my forearm, and I will tell you it still smells good.

Just like the strings, the yo-yos will wear out and become un-useable soon. Team Losi's are know to have the starbursts wear out after just moderate use. They also have some cracking happening around the hex nut and bot that keeps them together, another strike against them. The 80's butterfly is modded to have a silicone groove on the side that has the logo, so it is more protected from wear. I have to thoroughly enjoy these yo-yos while I can, because I will only have memories of them soon enough.

I did a trick that Justin Weber would do with the Butterfly. I don't have a name for it. But the sound effect that goes along with this (all of Justin's tricks have a sound effect) is:
whip bom babom, shoo

We have not forgotten about this blog, nor the string, nor you. Thanks for keeping up with us. More content is coming along with the "yo-yo" season, where kids are out of school. I know for certain that I will have my freestyle I have been practicing for MOYO coming after the weekend of the 24th.

'till later.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

State of the Yo-yo Address

Whether Steve wants to share this or not, I think this is very important.

Sorry to steal your thunder, Steve. But the lightning was too strong to let it to dissipate over time.

Steve, as an aside, how many of those thousand strings were Cones To Balls™ strings?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

i totally lost count.

i have no idea how many strings i've twisted. maybe like... 60? 70?

all's i know is that the ball no longer fits well in the rancor's hand... and it makes him feel inadequate. it's kind of weak, since i was making tally marks. how hard is it to make a tally mark? i don't even remember neglecting to do so. was there a string i twisted and i was going to make the mark in the book, but i was like 'ah, screw it!'?

i also know that whenever i stop twisting from the cone of doom, i'm really going to miss the way the strands look after you tie the loop. it reminds me of a buddhist mala (though i'll grant you, a lot of things do... because i'm pretty flaky).

also noteworthy is the fact that i 'compared cones' (god that sounds dirty) with john higby last week, who has one of the old tom kuhn spools (both the smaller one and one of the enormous ones), and although the tk stuff is type 8, it feels exactly like this stuff in terms of its rigidity and spring-factor.

i'm a little concerned because i can't really make out any discernible change in the overall size of the cone. i mean, i don't twist a ton of strings (i timed one last week and it lasted for at least 6 hours of play)... but it looks pretty much just as massive and daunting as when i first received it. i guess since it's cylindrical, as it unwinds, the width will start to diminish more rapidly over time. is that right? i'm not like a math teacher or anything.

... oops.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Full One Hundred Throws and Catches

A Full One Hundred Throws and Catches (and others) from Jacob Deffenbaugh on Vimeo.

This almost seems counter-intuitive for this project. But the roots lie in enjoying every throw.

Instead of throwing the yo-yo like you always do, then dealing with the sometimes sub-par performance, why not make the actual throw more fun?

I don't have a lesson here, and I'm not really expecting this to change the world. I just want to do simple, cool yo-yo tricks.

Friday, January 29, 2010


leaving for walt disney world in a few hours. our travel will be complicated somewhat by the swirling vortex of winter weather that will (apparently) descend upon north carolina late tonight. my daughter and i actually have tickets to the ringling bros. (and barnum and bailey) circus tonight. plan was to leave tomorrow after her ballet class, but as that's sure to be canceled i think we'll amscray in the night and hope to miss the worst of the precipitation.

folk from the north always laugh at the mid-atlantic states as they fumble around during the winter, but while they get 3 feet of [clearly impassable] snow, we tend to get freezing rain, and a half-inch of ice, which may look like nothing, but will misdirect even the hardiest snow-tires into a ditch.

i'm psyched for the trip, but this is really the first time i've had to twist some string in advance. i'll be gone a week, so i twisted 8 strings. this seems more than i could possibly use (probably more like 3 or 4), but i wanted to be safe. i'm not bringing the cone or the ball, so i'll have to carefully save what i use. leave no trace.

someone on 'extremespin' (which still exists, funnily enough) asked how the project is going, which to me indicates that i don't post enough. i'll end this entry with what i told him, since i can't think of a more interesting way to paraphrase it:

"it's awesome string. i play narrow gaps, and i'm not gonna lie... it's hard. it takes a really concentrated effort to do the stuff that i've had dialed on thinner string. but that's also why i like it. i've only snapped one, it lasts a LONG time, and the texture is divine.

and much like the original 'idea', i really THINK before i twist a new one. they aren't 'disposable' in the same way that other string has been for me. i commit to twisting it well, commit to playing it well (or as well as i can manage), and when it joins the ever-expanding ball, winding it is almost a kind of meditation. like a tiny funeral. and like any funeral for one who has lived well, there's more joy than grief involved."

Friday, January 22, 2010

An old, familiar feeling.

I recently acquired a yo-yo that is a few years old. Don't tell anyone, but I bought it mostly because of the color. Turns out I like how it plays a whole lot. But I know on the inside that it's probably mostly the color that makes me want to look down at it while it's spinning, not necessarily the unique feedback I get through this string.

The old, familiar feeling came from the response pads that it came with. They are Kentaro pads. Old-school black, textured rubber pads that were a breakthrough when they first hit the market. These used to be my favorite response pads. They feel great, grip hard, and stay out of the way when you want them to. But I found that silicone (instead of rubber) did not leave behind the tell-tale black residue on the string.
I played one string with these pads. Twisted one fresh for this yo-yo, and I have not changed it as of writing this. But I was reminded how I came to changing the string as often as I used to (which was often more than once a day). I can't stand a dirty-looking string. Even a bright color of the string makes me feel like it's dirty. Yo-yo string is supposed to be white!

The residue visible is from about two days of playing. Around the slipknot is what the string used to look like before playing. I can't stand it anymore, it's too dirty. This is the shortest that I have had a string last.

I thankfully had an envelope come with more of a non-staining silicone response pad. Gonna play this up now, and with a clean string.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a series of non sequiters

i've been really discombobulated lately. i have no real 'theme', and yet i was compelled to post something anyhow, if only because i haven't in awhile (confessional).

my little boy says 'robot' all the time now, and then he talks like a robot. except he kind of says 'rabat', which makes me think of a mechanical rabbit terminating the characters from 'watership down'.

i can't tell if playing extremely 'high-end' unresponsive metal yo-yo's AND 'low-end' snappy wooden yo-yo's serves to enrich my play... or confuse it. i do like that the stuff connecting me to my yo-yo's is all the same. that feels good.

i bought myself an a-2 style leather jacket last week. it's the first leather jacket i've owned. stacy thinks it's 'a little boxy'. i wonder if marion ravenwood thought indiana's was 'a little boxy' too.

i'm going back to disney world in a few weeks. taking the little girl out of school for a full week. the principal is pretty aggro and might give me a hard time. bring it. steve doesn't like disney world cause it's so corporate, but i dig me some pirates of the carribean (i always misspell caribbean).

i have twisted and used 46 strings in about 3 months. got em all right here. you could play wiffleball with 46 strings, but it would be a pitchers' duel.

so i have 2 cats. one poops immediately outside the litter box (i can only assume it's for spite). the other insists on going outside as soon as the door is opened, where she promptly chews some grass, then comes back in to vomit. always on the carpet.

i like this frontstyle john-bot bucket mount a lot.

although there is nothing 'zen' about wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the kanji for 'zen' (or indeed about anything that proclaims to 'be zen'), there IS something 'zen' about irony. get it?

i hate all kinds of berries on principle, and their related ice cream/yogurt. except boysenberry.

it is 64 degrees here in nc on 1/19/10. i'm typing this in shirt sleeves on my porch.

shirt sleeves. what a ridiculous expression.

jonrob left spyy to do his own thing. it was pretty awesome to have been on a yo-yo team with him.

i'm making gumbo tonight in the crock pot, but totally forgot to buy okra at the store. what is gumbo without okra, i ask you?

most people won't seem satisfied unless they can put you in some kind of convenient box.

my little boy is up in the tree house, and i can smell his poopy diaper from here. if poopy diapers were bad guys, i would be like wolverine. ('i'm the best at what i do. but what i do isn't very nice... at all... in fact it's really disgusting.')

so i thought this string was pretty thick. then i started collaborating with john higby on a project, and he sent me a [bigger] cone to twist some string from. the string he sent me is like 'type 15'. so thick it'll hardly keep a twist at all, and when it does, it's literally the width of a no jive's gap. it's also left handed! we probably won't be using it.

i really want to get a new tattoo. of a triceratops skull.

yesterday i got a crown on a cracked tooth. getting the tooth shaved down and polished up and then having the thing stuck on with cement was mildly uncomfortable. it bothered me all day. felt like something was 'wrong' in my mouth. i went skating today and fell badly a few times while trying to get a launch ramp dialed. i'm shredded all over and it's pretty uncomfortable. doesn't bother me at all though, because somehow it feels as though it's 'supposed' to be that way.