Friday, 29 March 2013 03:55

Have You Folded Your Tetrahedron Today?

                                             001ernie2206299 origs



My brother Ernie passed on this month; not anticipated but expected. Seeing him live through fifteen years with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and his support in my exploration in folding circles brought us into a friendship we did not share as kids or in growing up.


He was a gregarious sort that took energy from many people only to increase and enhance in giving back. He used those years of a slow progressing disease experience to help many people with ALS whose lives would be much shorter. He enjoyed giving to all kinds of people in diverse ways. It took most of our adult lives to begin to appreciate and love each other for our individual differences and life choices.


Over those fifteen years I would stay with him while going to math conferences and doing workshops in the area. We did conferences together. He would move through the aisles of the exhibitor’s hall in his wheelchair asking attendees, “Have you folded your tetrahedron today?” He would playfully engage them to fold as he instructed, showing them with not fully controllable fingers. Having been with Ernie people would excitedly come up to the booth holding their folded tetrahedron to see what else they can do and buy a book about folding circles. In watching Ernie, thinking his good old boy approach was cornball, yet it worked to get people interested and coming to the booth. Chalk one up for Ernie. We sold a fair number of books over the years while he sold people on folding circle and enjoying life. This worked because he was a genuine and generous man that approached people with an open heart; enjoying people every bit as much as I enjoy exploring folding circles. People saw how he delighted in showing them, how easy it was even with large hands that year-by-year became less responsive to his control. He impressed them; a big man in an equally large motorized wheel chair with attached table loaded with paper plates, folding sticks, and tape, engaging them as they passed by. He openly, honestly, directly approached people for what he could give to them, receiving much in return. He loved doing this even as it strained him, pushing him against the goodness of his decision to live a diseased life fully; and we enjoyed our time together.


Sitting around the house playing with new ideas about the circle he would sometimes ask if I had thought of doing what I was from the other direction, or maybe to count differently. I would explain to my students to fold every other point to the center and crease. This can be confusing for some people. He says fold point 1,3,5 to the center and crease. Clear to everyone. From the start he put the process of choice into the hands of the folders. I now often use this in instructing students; everybody understands.


Something he said revealed another way to look at folding the circle in less-than-half that opened deeper levels of exploration. We folded the thick paper circle underneath a take out pizza dinner; we began to eat lots of pizza dinners. Some of his ideas sounded obvious at first but I learned to listen and value them. In his own way he appreciated the depth of my interest in folding circles and at the same time I developed a great respect for his courage, practicality, openness, joy in living, his humor, and the choice he made to live his life fully even as the ALS was slowly closing down his body. We were both proud to be each other’s brother. I carry him with me and I with him where he goes.


Ernie was a man with many activities and interest. The disease did not lessen the value of his life or limit giving to others as he continued cheerfully to serve in various capacities through times when it was difficult for him to care for himself. His self-sufficiency was grounded in his relationships with others. After his passing many people came together sharing personal stories enlarging everyone’s understanding of this life well spent. This helped fill in those years we were unable to find a friendship that later found us.


Ernie was a living demonstration of the value of relationships, not in an abstracted, generalized, or conceptual way as I observe in folding circles, but in the everyday encounters he had with people. Whether between points, lines, areas as they shift and change in the circle or the living relationships expressed with many people that come into and out of our lives; the same unity, principles, order and consistency of individual potential is revealed and realized in the human spirit. Ernie showed me a living geometry in his choice to live life as best he could with his capacity for love and service, despite his disabling body.




                                       002ernie9098684 orige  





Below are a few pictures of fold circles done with Ernie.



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Four 14” pizza circles


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Ernie liked transformational torus rings and movement systems using paper plates.


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A few objects around his house.


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Four 25” diameter circles upped the scale.



                                     We made soccer balls from party plates


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and a number of off-center foldings.

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An 8-frequency collapsible tetrahedron


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          and a spherical cubeoctahedron column served as conference displays.








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