SkyMall Monday: Towel Origami Book

As we march deeper into the 21st century, technology will only become a greater force in our lives. From the internet to mobile devices to the near-imminent arrival of jet packs, innovation will continue to push us forward. The flip side, however, is that we will lose more and more of our old ways. As older generations pass on, many of our old ways will be forgotten. Here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, we rely on the oral histories of our elders to guide us. While we progress into a brave new world, those traditions become nothing more than footnotes in history books. Thankfully, SkyMall knows that we must preserve our customs. Thanks to our favorite catalog, those practices that sustained us during our earliest times can be cherished and sustained. We owe a debt of gratitude to SkyMall for the book that will save The Lost Art of Towel Origami.Most of us take towels for granted. Sure, they dry us at our darkest, wettest moments, but towels are so much more than that. They are inspirational beings that bridge the gap between our world and the heavens. Only when they have been folded into their spirit animals can they guide us on life’s many quests. Their sage advice is held in their complex folds.

Think that towels are nothing but overpriced terrycloth? Believe that folding is just for paper? Well, while you fall victim to one of the many household accidents that occur in the bathroom, we’ll be reading the product description:

You’ll never fold a towel the same old way again. Make a guest bath special with towel origami—the art of folding fabrics into cool shapes and creatures.

Crease and crinkle ordinary towels to create an elephant, monkey, ladybug, palm tree, lotus flower, spinning windmill, skyscraper, and more.

Like the elders once did in the rock gardens of rural Japan, you, too, can practice the art of folding fabrics into cool shapes and creatures. And, by elders I mean housekeeping staffs and by rural Japan I mean modern cruise ships.

Preserving the old ways keeps us connected to our past. It shows respect to those who led us here and inspired us to be better. If we lose those traditions, we lose our way. We must fold our towels into sunglasses-wearing elephants. If we don’t, it’s the children who suffer.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Daily Pampering: Seven chances to try a new job around the world

Do you feel a bit confined by your gig? Sure, the cash is great, but you are held hostage by it. You can’t throw it all away and chase your low-paying dream. Well, now you have a chance to turn the paycheck that keeps you in the office 14 hours a day into the chance to try something new, even if only briefly. Cox & King is offering several packages designed to give you a once-in-a-lifetime shot at living your dream.

1. The Textile Expert
The “Textiles of India” tour takes you to some of the most famous weaving centers in the country, including Varanasi (known for Benarsi silk wedding sarees), Kanchipuram (zardozi embroidery work on Mysore silks) and Jaipur (handmade block printed cotton fabrics). This experience lasts 22 days and comes at a cost of $12,735 per person (based on double occupancy).

2. Painting Papyrus
With the “Splendors of Egypt” and “Discover Egypt” tours from Cox & King, you can satisfy your jones for Egyptology and learn to paint, draw and write under the tutelage of one of the masters. Participate in the rare and fine art that dates back thousands of years (trips start at $4,075).3. Fine Wine … in Lebanon?
The Phoenicians sold wine to Lebanon more than 4,000 years ago, and it’s believed that the Lebanese brought it to Spain and Italy. The fertile soil of the Bekaa Valley is the secret behind Lebanese wine, and you can get all the details on the “Lebanon & Syria: Empires Past” tour. Spend a day at Chateau Ksara, the oldest running winery in Lebanon, and learn the intricacies of the process of making Lebanese wine. This 15-night tour starts at $6,585.

4. South American Shutterbug
Click like crazy in Argentina on the Cox & King “A Photographic Journey: Buenos Aires & Northern Patagonia” tour. You’ll travel with Diego Ortiz Mugica, known as the Ansel Adams of Argentina, and pick up some tips and tricks, against the backdrop of the Argentinean culture. This unique opportunity is only available from November 6 – 13, 2010 and starts at $5,894.

5. Study Primates in the Wild
Startin Kigali, Rwanda on the “Gorillas in the Mist” tour, and you’ll climb into the world of gorillas. After a briefing, you’ll enter Parc National des Volcans, where you’ll enter their habitat and get great views of these massive creatures. The experience lasts four days and starts at $4,195.

6. Jewelry Craftsman
You could make jewelry in your living room … but wouldn’t be more interesting to try it in Mozambique? Go to Ibo Island, and experience classes with traditional silversmiths. You can even bring your old jewelry to melt down and use as a starting point (creating a bridge between old and new) or buy materials from the locals. This trip starts at only $1,585 a person.

7. The Origami Master
Put your fingers to work on an art form that dates back to the seventeenth century. You’ll learn to fold paper into amazing creations and gain an appreciation for the history behind origami on the “Treasures of Japan” tour, which starts at $12,525 per person.

For more Daily Pampering, click here.

Gadling Take FIVE: Week of Dec. 27–Jan. 2

First off, Happy 2009!

As we marked the passage of time, Heather graced us with a look at the New Year from her angle in the sky. I loved looking through the gallery of her last trip of 2008, particularly her details about the passenger who made origami birds for her to pass out to kids. Sweet.

Here are five more posts that offer a mixed bag from humorous to helpful to downright deep.

  • Anything free gives me a sense of well-being. Alison pointed out that on January 10, Winter Trails Day, there are several opportunities to snowshoe or cross-country ski for free.
  • Planning ahead can give the feeling of having some semblance of control. To help you out with that, Scott offers 10 travel resolutions geared for getting your 2009 travel on the right track.
  • Kraig offered a story about how an iPod saved a skier and a snowboarder from freezing to death in the Swiss Alps which, as he stated, is as good a commercial as any for getting one.
  • If SkyMall Monday doesn’t warm your heart with a belly laugh or two, I don’t know what will. Reading Mike’s top 10 list of SkyMall Mondays is a great way to pass some time. I still like the Flair Hair Visor the best.
  • Cemeteries might not seem cheery to some, but I love them. As my husband said the other day as we were driving by a small, intriguing cemetery in northern Ohio, they are filled with stories. The stories remind us that time is fleeting so don’t waste it. Jeffery’s look at New York City’s famous cemeteries presents a glimpse into the past and how New York preserves the resting places of those who came before us. If there’s any indication that life has value, here is proof.

Big in Japan: Origami planes to be launched into outer space

Origami is awesome!

(If you agree with me, then you’ll love today’s posting!)

My obsession with all things Japanese started at a young when I started folding paper cranes out of notebook pages instead of paying attention in class.

Known as origami (????????, paper-folding), this ancient Japanese art seeks to transform a piece of paper into a 3-dimensional object, preferably without cutting or gluing.

So, while my teachers may have thought that I was goofing off, I was actually practicing a centuries’ old art form that dates back to the Japanese Edo period.

Anyway, according to The Times of London, origami is about to be taken into the final frontier, namely outer space.


In a bold attempt to bring increased global attention to this slowly dying art form (as well as the slowly dying Japanese conventional space program!), Japan plans to release a huge squadron of paper airplanes into the stratosphere.

Seriously – I’m not making this up!

These experimental origami space shuttles, which are estimated to number in the hundreds, will be launched into the heavens later this year.

Upon being released, they will be captured by the Earth’s gravitational pull, and glide down towards the surface like kamikaze bombers from the stars.

Keep reading…it gets even cooler!

The man behind the madness is Shinichi Suzuki, a professor at the extremely prestigious University of Tokyo (東京大学), which is something akin to the Harvard of Japan.

According to Professor Suzuki, astronomers will be given plenty of warning of the planes’ descents as he believes it will take several months for the space armada to glide from the upper atmosphere to the planet’s surface.

If successful, the planes would qualify for the longest ever flight by a paper plane!

If successful, each plane’s journey will have been around 250 miles or 400km!

So, how does one exactly fold origami planes capable of travelling hundreds of miles through the earth’s atmosphere without burning up into huge fire balls??

Good question!

First of all, the paper aircraft will be constructed from a special heat-proofed paper able to withstand the intense heat that stellar objects experience when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

And, the paper will also be chemically fortified to survive the enormous speeds that the planes will be travelling at during descent.

According to Professor Suzuki, the origami planes will each measure around 8 inches (20 cm), and weigh just one ounce (30 grams).

This compact size will enable them to be hurled into space by Japanese astronauts when they visit the International Space Station later this summer.

So, do we have to worry about being pelted from above by kamikaze origami? Most likely not.

Assuming the planes don’t disintegrate, they will probably splashdown in the deep ocean, much like the early Apollo space missions.

However, if one floats down to solid ground, the lucky finder can actually unfold the plane and discover the return address of the Japan Space Agency!

Just ask Professor Suzuki…

“It’s going to be the space version of a message in a bottle. It will be great if someone picks one up. We are thinking of writing messages on the planes saying ‘if found, please contact us’ in a couple of languages.”

Gotta’ love the Japanese!

** All of the photos in this article were taken by Kiyoshi Ota of the Asia division of Reuters News. They were originally published in The Times. **