Documenting my trail of origami cranes

A large part of my trail of thousand origami cranes is recorded in video with a Canon PowerShot ELPH-150 as first-person point of view camera and a GoPro Hero4 Silver as third-person point of view camera. Most of the time i use a Walimex Table Tripod to hold the Canon. For the GoPro i use a custom stand made from Lego bricks to get a really low angle. I cover the logos with black tape, because i don’t get paid for this.

I have three replacement batteries for each camera and charge them with a battery pack while i’m out there folding my origami cranes. I need to do it like this, because if everything is perfect, i can fold over hundred cranes a day, which drains the batteries. This is why i get around 700 cranes after a week of travel. The original size of the paper i use is A4, but i cut it down to A6 to make it fit.

Before i go to a city, i use Google Maps with satellite view turned on. I look for benches and other things where i can sit down to fold my origami cranes. Most of the time, i’m walking to the places, unless it’s in London or Hong Kong, where the Tube or the MTR is the first choice to get around. This way i get to see a lot and discover things i have not seen through my research.

After a day of folding origami cranes, i backup all the files from both SanDisk Memory Cards to two Samsung SSDs. I use a Lenovo Thinkpad 8 Windows Tablet with a Inateck USB Hub attached to copy the videos and check the file integrity via MD5 hashing algorithm. This is a lot of effort to keep it all safe, but worth it. At home i use custom code to organize everything and feed it into Windows Movie Maker as the last step before uploading it to YouTube.

Holding a mirror up to the sky

In 2006, i started to study geography, but after two and a half semesters i stopped visiting the university, because of my burn out. Officially, however, i was a geography student at the University of Bonn for eight years, because of the discounted tickets for public transport and other perks. FYI, as a city child, i never felt the need for a driver’s license.

I realized i was not confident with the decision and i could not tell people about it. I didn’t want them to worry about me, have questions, or judge me, being wrong or crazy. I was so fragile, and they could have broken me. I was embarrassed and i didn’t want anyone to see me as i was judging others. I had to put things into perspective, to let everything go i supposed to do. I asked myself, what that even mean, why do i care, and it was so freeing that nothing really matters anymore.

Between 2007 and 2009, i wrote two books about real life, philosophy, and art. I had several attempts to start a diary before, and they were the result of it. I published them via lulu, a online self publishing book and ebook service. There are not many copys of my books out there, because they only got printed on demand. At least two friends from my time at school bought them, and i’m grateful for this. I learned a lot while writing about others and myself. It was like holding a mirror up to the sky and seeing everything from above, but still standing on planet Earth.

I wanted to understand others in relation to myself better than anyone else can. I didn’t want to waste my time for something i wasn’t ready to be. I didn’t want to hate myself later for not falling in love with myself. I love the idea of being in love, but i was the only one who is available. Not just because i was overweight, but it was part of it. I learned that i can’t picture life without me, and that i’m complete, even when i’m alone. But i have dreams, and don’t know how. I’m a hopeless romantic, but i know it cost something to get somewhere.

I was a member of the McDonalds Club

I loved junk food like nothing else, because my childhood was like a roller coaster ride. Everything changed all the time, and McDonalds or Pizza Hut were delivering a consistency, which was missing in my life. This is why i ended up with 110 kg body weight and i had to do something about it in 2009. I did not feel well in my body and decided to get rid of everything i don’t need. In less than one year i got it down to around 65 kg, with a body height of 175 cm.

Back then, i was a member of the McDonalds Junior Club. This way i got letters from them with vouchers for a free meal on every birthday. In Germany the happy meal was called “Überraschungstüte”, literally translated as “surprise bag”, because of the toy you get inside. In hindsight it’s nothing special, but as a child i wanted it to be my whole world. I was wild and free, but luckily i ended up like me today, which makes me relate to: “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”

When i was around ten years old, i regularly took the tram to get from the little town Ratingen to the big city Düsseldorf, just to watch Lego sculptures in department stores and wander around the shopping streets to the next McDonalds or Pizza Hut. Alone without anyone, like most of the time, because i didn’t feel something was missing. It was just normal and it was all i knew. At some point, i even tried to sell self-made bracelets on the streets, but nothing came of it.

I collected The Simpsons comics

I have been collecting postage stamps ever since i can remember. Some regular customers of our restaurant brought me their stamps as gift and they have made my collection even larger. I often sat next to the aquarium in the restaurant and spend my time there. This way i got stamps from places i never heard of. In school i exchanged stamps with schoolmates and got even more diversity. But we moved in 1998 and i had to focus on other things.

The Simpsons was always something i was looking forward to. It has followed me everywhere. I even did crazy things to record and see all the episodes on VHS tape. Back then, nothing was automatic. And at some point, i bought a comic from my favorite TV series for the first time. But i didn’t get every new issue, because they were expensive. And my other passion was to watch movies in the cinema, which isn’t cheap either. This is why i bought a box full of old The Simpsons comics on eBay in April 2004. I thought they would be worth something later, but i was wrong. FYI, i had to search through my mail archive in Mozilla Thunderbird to find the year of purchase. And i try to scan everything, which makes finding dates like this easier, as you can see on my blog.

But i’m happy that i collected stamps. It gave me a wider view on the world and got me interested in history too. This is one of the reasons why i decided to study geography at university. It all fits together and there are still pieces left. The stamps are not worth a lot, but i have many memories associated with them. They come from a time when i did not have much to worry about. A somewhat different world than today.

How i got into photojournalism

Two years after moving back to the place i was born, i got into journalism at school. Since 2000, i visited several courses to learn how to run a newspaper, because of my teacher Mrs. Klein: None of this would have happened without her. But it was never really successful with my schoolmates. Because of this, i decided to do it alone, from creating content to printing the pages for the student newspaper. I didn’t make any money from advertising, but at least i was running a news media, and got experience in delivering content to the public.

Five years later, in 2005, i got into photojournalism, because i was successful in transforming my print journalism into online journalism, and had enough skills with my DSLR camera. At some point, i applied for a press pass, and visited a variety of events, like concerts, politics and sports, to write about them and make photos. I got to shoot many actors, athletes, celebrities, singers, politicians, royals, and even the pope, while i was covering whatever they were doing.

But after over 100.000 photos, i got tired and took a break from making “indie” journalism. Because the numbers have shown that most don’t care. And at the end, i wasn’t creating anything, just reporting what other people were doing. I have felt that i am at least as good as they are, and should show it to the world. This is why i focused more on myself, and started to make YouTube videos, where i present some of my skills i acquired, or aspire to be better in.

How i started with Perl programming language

Back then, in 1998, when i got a dial-up internet connection for my IBM computer for the first time, i found “redseven”. It was a online community from TV station “ProSieben” in Germany. They had chatrooms, guestbooks, forums and boards. At that time, i already started to build my own website with HTML and Javascript, just by try and error, without any programming skills. But i was quite limited with it.

And this is where at some point Daniel Rüd introduced me to the Perl Programming Language. I’ve met him in the chat and we became good friends since then. If i had any friends, most of them were older than me, because i was different, and they didn’t understand why. Back then, i was at school, and he was working as an IT person at a large bank.

This was before 2001, when the dot-com bubble was still not at its peak. Sadly i came too late for the whole thing and i never got a piece of the cake. But then again, i was really young. And internet access via telephone modem was slow and expensive. Eventually, Daniel Rüd made me a FTP account for his web server, so i could upload my first Perl projects and try them out over the internet. He was really nice and helped me with everything. This is how i got my feet wet, and since then, i never stopped writing code in Perl, even when he moved on to the PHP programming language for his projects.

And at some point, i run my own server and started to code my own online community. Since then, most of my projects are based on Perl code. I have tried a lot of different things on the web, but never got something that made me rich financially. I just learned a lot and got a sense of achievement, because i had many thousands of people using my services regularly.

I even told him about the crushes i had on girls at school, and was never that easy on him, but he kept listening to me. Now he has his own family and is working as IT person for a weather forecast service. Thank you to Daniel Rüd, for being friends with me for so long.

Why i stopped playing table tennis

Around the peak of my burn out, would be the short answer. And at some point, i was too old for the youth teams, so i had to do my table tennis training with older people, which was fine, but i felt too young among them. The age gap was quite high. And it was before i got my body weight down to normal. Because of this, i was never really on top, just good enough to play in a team against other clubs.

I always liked it, because there is not much running involved. It was still a fast ball sport, where you have to be awake and focused. But i joined rather late in 2001 a table tennis club. I like to do things quick and precise. Small actions can lead to big points. And this is why i played it for around eight years at DJK Blau-Weiß Friesdorf. I don’t think i wasted my time, because i met pleasant people, who really care about what they do. Something that bound us together for the moment. I still own my “Newgy Robo-Pong 540” table tennis robot and have my “ping pong” table in the attic above us. Thanks to the nice mother of our landlord, who allowed me this a long time ago.

But i needed to do a reset on all my activities, because it was too much. I had already merged a couple of my web projects together and discontinued other services completely. And it felt good to have space to move the focus to somewhere else, because i got time to change or start things that made me more happy. I would never have done my trail of thousand origami cranes with all the weight i had back then.

It was an act of desperation, i wasn’t forced to do it, it was just everything i knew to be true at that time. I buried myself into all the things and i haven’t even asked, how i’m doing, and what can i do to be happy. I realized i was miserable and i lost the connection to myself. I kept doing the same thing and was expecting a different result. Something had to change, or it would be stupid. Life was drowning me, and i needed a break. At that point, i felt this was my only option.

Dissecting my obsession with Jessica Clements

Life is boring if you don’t risk something, even if it’s just your time. In late 2016, i folded over 700 origami cranes in Edinburgh, and i had not much to do in the winter. Eventually, i watched a video on YouTube with Jessica Clements and her birds, and i just wanted to go down that rabbit hole. I was investing some of my time in her, trying to find out what she is up to, hoping that one day our paths will cross, and share some time together.

My obsessions were always not that bad in hindsight. They gave me a goal to work towards, when i had no destiny in sight. And along the way, i picked up more parts of myself. With growing and learning came a little bit of happiness, by using the potential to fill the emptiness. It made me unique, but made me feel out of place too.

I’m afraid to lose my parents, because i would be alone. I still live with them, because i don’t have anything you would call a job. But only certainty gives confidence to act courageous. This makes me want to build something with others, to create a home where i can stay, just like now: Somewhere safe, but more permanent, where i can figure it all out.

I’m not going to quit life, because of moments like with Jessica Clements, as glowing in the dark. There is still hope that the world can do better. Maybe she was just a distraction, but i wanted to believe something like this could lead somewhere. I wanted to go crazy on her and see where it goes from there. The future doesn’t look that good, and i end up lonely. This is why i gave it a chance, so it’s less likely to happen.

And at the end, there is still an animal inside, controlled and fed by me. His priorities weren’t the same as mine and he was unconcerned with everything i wanted. He had the idea of having a home, and i was jealous about it. At some point in life, i have put him behind thick walls, so he never got to do anything, because i was a little bit faster and braver, with a wider view on the world and more ideas. It’s a lot of work to keep everything tidy, but he is one of the few things that makes me feel alive, and is worth it. He liked Jessica Clements, because she had something that reminded him of me.

Her birds made me go to Dublin

I already mentioned where i started the trail of thousand origami cranes, and if you read between the lines, you may know why too. It has to make sense at the end. Have you ever read “Hansel and Gretel” by the Brothers Grimm? Since i’m based in Bonn, there are a handful of countries in my reach, just by taking the train. Deciding where to fold my origami cranes is limited by this. I’m not going to fly far away without your support finding a sponsor. I would like to do it everywhere.

Some places have more motivation behind. Jessica Clements wrote at some point, probably at Saint Patrick’s Day, part of her background is Irish. After a while of thinking, i booked an apartment and tickets for Dublin. I had some travel credits from referring people to Airbnb. This happened last month, before i stopped myself going too far with Jessica Clements two weeks ago. Dublin was already on my radar last year, but there was not enough reason to make me go there, until she came up with birds on her shoulders.

I was geography student at university, and like to travel with meaning behind it. I wanted to have a feeling for the origin of Jessica Clements, her place on planet earth, and from where she got there, to see parts of the bigger picture, and to demystify Jessica Clements a little bit. Since this is better than nothing, i’m good with it, and i can move on. When i understand someone, i can let the person go more easily. This is just how my brain works. It predicts the future with the input i gathered, and since it’s real life, the outcome gives me most of the time room to say good bye.

Maybe the world is bad, but the people in Dublin i met last week were nice to me. Before my trip, i have read horror stories about thieves and violence, but i had a pleasant stay in the capital of Ireland. Although seven days don’t say much. And since i’m not going out at night, i missed the other part of each day too. Some people took a break to say hi, without even knowing me, just because i was there folding origami cranes. They have made my day. It was windy and it rained a lot, but i still got 706 of them done on my Dublin journey.

Finding and keeping friends is hard for me

I moved twice when i was young. And since we are not owning the apartment here in Bad Godesberg, we will at some point move again. Back then, there was no internet available to remain connected to each other. The only option was to be pen pals via snail mail. But i’m not good at communicating about things that don’t matter, because i still had so much to do. And there are limitations on what you can make out of trash. It’s just entertaining for a while. It didn’t make sense to me, and felt like a waste of time. On one occasion, my parents had lent money to friends of ours, but we never saw them again, which has broken my trust in people a bit too.

I had pen pals, but eventually, we stopped, without to burn any bridges, they just faded away. I wasn’t equipped with the skills to keep a conversation going. And i didn’t get many chances to learn it either. But i have tried to figure it out, because humans are social beings, and we can change things, as puppets and puppeteers. Most people fear to disclose what they feel, and that is why a large amount about who we are is missing. They are scared not to be good enough, what makes them boring, without the failures, desires and craziness.

I have lost friends, because i was too hard on them, and myself. The foundations just weren’t substantial enough. No mutual interests or compatibility. But i never gave up on anybody, and i am grateful for the time i had with them. I was always different, because i lived between worlds. My parents are from Hong Kong, but i was born in Germany. Since the beginning, my thinking was occupied with organizing the different pieces and trying to make sense out of it, like having several jigsaw puzzles mixed together on a roller coaster ride. You can’t expect me to get it right at the same time, but i am striving for it.