Little Things

Words, words, words, have you heard

23 July, 2014 (12:00) | Little Things

A few months back, I drove past a auto body shop called “Pair o’ Dice” and I thought that was a terrible name for a business.  Clever?  Sure.  But you’ll have to explain the name to every customer – let alone direct traffic to your website properly.  As I’m thinking more and more about the situations where the owner must clarify the name, I’m saying “paradise” over and over in my head, until at the same moment, lyrics to a new song on the radio said “paradise” at the same time I thought it.  I wish I could remember the track.  It was something by a newer band, alternative rock.

I had not posted about it, because I wanted to heard that song again so I could include it in the post, but I just had another similar situation, so I figured I’d post it anyway.  I’m out for a run in the neighborhood, and I hear a mom yell to her daughter, “Sierra, it’s time for dinner”.  She definitely yelled and drew out that “Sierra”…just as the words to Cursive’s song “Sierra” did, only a few seconds later.  So strange.

Dreams

When I think about you I…

9 July, 2014 (12:00) | Dreams

Dreams never cease to amaze me.  How can my mind create this world while keeping my consciousness separate?  How can my brain orchestrate the responses and interactions between imaginary people while keeping it a surprise to me?  The other night, I had a striking example of this.

I went into a grocery store to see a friend who was working there.  I saw her enter the aisle adjacent to me, and I called over the shelves, “Hey, I’m over here, I’ll come right over.”  So I round the corner and she’s there with one of her coworkers.  She’s a short, older lady, with glasses and a curly permed grey head of hair.  I have the sense to hug her, as if my friend had told me all about her, so I do.  After hugging her and stepping back, she just stands there.  After an awkward silence, I say, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you didn’t like to be touched.”  She shrugs her frozen glaze and goes back to labeling items on the shelf and says, “Oh, it’s not that.  I was just shocked – usually touching is reserved as an employee perk.”  I laughed at the suggestion of improper employee relations.  She was funny.  Then, an employee resembling Robert Downing Jr. approached me and said, “Quick, it’s time to play “carry stuff.””  This was a game invented by employees where they try to pick up bulky items in increasing quantities while customers tried to ask them questions.  The objective was to pick up the most without the customer stopping with their question.  Robert Downing Jr. picked up 2 2 gallon sized jars of mayonnaise that were sitting on pallets.  While going for the 3rd, the customer walked away.  This was a funny game, and it become apparent that I was on some sort of skit show, like Saturday Night Live.  The next few segments brought in a slapstick character like Chris Farley who was tumbling around a row of bikes, and a tall slender guy, like a Steve Martin, who was just smiling and making boisterous comments.

What I wanted to highlight most here wasn’t so much the humor of the dream, but the fact that I was entertained…by myself.  I mean, the employee perk comment is witty, right?  I wouldn’t have come up with that.  The pick up stuff game?  GENIUS!  That’s hilarious!  I was laughing so hard in my dream, complete unaware that it was all my idea in the first place!  It really makes me wonder about what neural network we tap into when we sleep.  Is it really possible to be communicating with other people in a dream state?  Maybe these other people are having the same dreams as me – together.  It’s almost a more easily believed explanation than considering the mental walls that barricade my existing consciousness from my creative creator.

LEGO© Creations

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood house interior in LEGO – A Beautiful Day in the Block

29 June, 2014 (22:24) | LEGO© Creations

I love Mister Rogers.  I loved his show, but I loved his work and his demeanor.  He cared and he truly had a mysterious way of calming you.  I won’t go on about him, plenty of others already aggregated lists for that.

To show my appreciation, I wanted my next Pittsburgh build to be Mister Rogers related.  I had a few different ideas that I’ve been dragging along for a while, but this one hit me quickly and I knew I could pull it off with the parts I had in a short period of time.  I could only find 1 picture of the full room and it was very small.  I tried using video clips, but the picture was just going to have to work.

There were no major hangups.  There were lots of cut corners, that I could go back and fix, but I’m happy enough with it.  I thought it was funny about how ugly the curtains were in the picture and verified in the videos.  I don’t remember them at all, but man, those are hideous.  No real good way to pull those off simply, so I just made ugly colorful curtains.  You can see in the reference picture, Picture Picture wasn’t in it.  Of course Picture Picture had to me in my build!  I LOVED PICTURE PICTURE!  I almost peed my pants when Daniel Tiger took a tour of the crayon making factory.  THAT WAS MY FAVORITE!  …but I digress.

It is currently on display at S.W. Randall in Squirrel Hill for their annual LEGO competition.  Voting begins July 1st and ends July 13th.  I’ve won the past 2 years, and had intended to “let someone else win it”, but, the more I thought about it, the more I think that’s the wrong way to go about it.  It’s true, I want someone else to win, but I also want to see the adult community grow in the Pittsburgh area!  I took my entry in today, with 1 more day to enter, so I didn’t get store front window placing, which will make it very hard to win.  There are 5 other adult entries, one by my friend and fellow LUG member, Dan Efran.  Tip o’ the hat to my punmaster friend, Brian, for helping me come up with the title “A Beautiful Day in the Block”.

 

And if you have a moment, please vote for my Cathedral of Learning LEGO Ideas project!  If it reaches 10,000 votes, LEGO will consider producing it as an official set!!!

 

LEGO© Creations

Batman Remembers

1 May, 2014 (14:59) | LEGO© Creations

For the 75th anniversary of Batman, LEGO announced a contest at the major conventions for the best batman build.  There wasn’t much in the way of official rules and regulations or criteria on how people would be judged, but I knew I wanted to take a shot.  The announcement came a few weeks before I planned on attending the first Philly Brickfest and I saw that as an opportunity to seize.  I had this clear vision of what I would do based on what images strike me when I think about Batman.  What better way to celebrate Batman than depicting the scene where it all began?

I’m going to try to hold back the bitterness as much as possible here.  When I showed up at the convention, it was just as I expected as far as entries.  Not too many people had the time to prepare large and intricate models and there were only a dozen or so entries.  Many were nice minifig scale vehicles.  When I placed my entry on the table, there were other entrants that said they’d vote for me if they could vote.  Way on the end of the table was basically an ad for this cuusoo project.  You could tell the artist was passionate for getting his project attention by the 3 inch tall cardboard platform he made and decorated for his classic batmobile model.  Around the stand, with a backing advertising the cuusoo project, he had cardboard cut outs of the joker, batman, and robin.  In front of the display, he had placed business cards in a checkerboard pattern to the edge of the table.  He put significant effort in promoting his project.  During the public hours, where everyone else was behind their MOCs at MOC tables, he was behind his model interacting with the public and passing out business cards.  He brought a gun to, what I thought was a knife fight, basically.  What really stung though, was not the feeling of him using the contest as a platform for self-promotion, but the model itself.  This was an official LEGO contest, and even the LEGO Cuusoo rules state no new parts and only LEGO parts may be used.  His model contained parts that he painted as well as cut plastic, that may or not have been LEGO.  This may not be understood by most of the public, but most of the respected builders in the community are purists.  It’s kind of the point.  It’s part of the fun to use what is available.  I mean, someone could have created an amazing batmobile if they cut and painted all they wanted.  Rant off.  I think you get the gist, I lost.  When I went to check on my Batman later in the day, he had dropped his bouquet, petals everywhere, and his head and sunken even lower.  I figured it was rather fitting and left it as it was.  Sorry, Bruce, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sad Batman

 

While you’re supporting the batmobile project, make sure you support my Cathedral of Learning and Stephen Foster Memorial!  Thanks!

 

 

LEGO© Creations

LEGO Ideas project – Cathedral of Learning and Stephen Foster Memorial

30 April, 2014 (18:23) | LEGO© Creations

Cathedral of Learning and Stephen Foster Memorial LEGO idea project.

Cathedral of Learning and Stephen Foster Memorial LEGO idea project.

LEGO Ideas is a site set up for people around the world to submit their ideas for possible sets. After I created my Cathedral of Learning and Stephen Foster Memorial in the Spring of 2012, I had many people ask me if I was going to submit it as a project for LEGO to review. My pessimism for it having global appeal, or even that I’d reach the 10,000 votes needed to have LEGO review the project, kept me from submitting the idea. After more attention and suggestions, I decided I’d let the world decide if they want to support the project instead of answering for them. If it got to 10,000 votes, I’d let LEGO make the decision on it’s probability of being a set instead of me just nixing the idea for them. So, here we are.

The Cathedral of Learning and Stephen Foster Memorial has until May 1st, 2015 to reach 10,000 supports. As of April 30th, 2014. We’re at 806 votes. That was not small feat either. I’ve circulated the link in my emails and bricklink transactions for a hundred or so of those votes, but it was really during the first week of March that the project got a real boost in attention. First, Reddit got a hold of the link. Then The official University of Pittsburgh Twitter and Facebook accounts shared it. Then, Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto shared it. Local news outlets ran some coverage on the project. From all of those, many fans were born and shared and voted for the project.  It was the 4th most supported project in the world that spring break week.  There is still a long road for our beloved Cathy to be immortalized in ABS though. To reach 10,000 votes, the project is needs a very broad audience to account for people taking the time to register a vote through facebook, twitter, or email accounts.  Many of the projects that reach 10,000 votes have 300,000 views or more.  If we reach that milestone, it will not be a result of any 1 person’s effort, but the work of a campus, an alumni, a city, a region, celebrities, professional athletes, and anyone with a connection to the wonderful landmark we all love and recognize.

Cathedral of Learning and Stephen Foster Memorial LEGO idea project.

A fan created this gift for his fiance.

Through the journey so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the level of interest in the model. I’ve had people contact me for instructions so they can build their own. I took the time to create a digital version so that I could produce the 500 pages of instructions. Don’t worry, the instructions will be MUCH simpler and easier to read in a final product. Since making the instructions available for free, I’ve heard back from some of them, including one supporter, who built one as a gift for his fiancé on her graduation day from the University of Pittsburgh. Can you imagine how flattered I was??? Sure, that wasn’t the intent, but I was just so floored at the use of something I made for myself. My heart runs wild with the idea of many people being able to share my joy for the model in their own way. The original model actually now sits with the University of Pittsburgh admissions office after I was contacted by a friend who wanted to give it as a gift to them on behalf of Mind of Media. I jumped at the opportunity to get the model in the hands of the University because that’s really where it belongs; In the heart of Oakland.

So, please, vote for the project and share this link – https://ideas.lego.com/projects/43478. Let this become a symbol of human creativity, a symbol of historic and architectural significance, a symbol of The University of Pittsburgh, a symbol of Pittsburgh, a symbol of all the nations represented in the nationality rooms, and a symbol of people coming together all over the world for 1 purpose. That’s big. But, it’s a big dream, and I’d like to share it with all of you.

LEGO© Creations

Collectible Minifig display case

15 February, 2014 (00:43) | LEGO© Creations

A warning – If you’re not really into the LEGO hobby or collecting, this might not be interesting or impressive.  There’s a fair amount of thought and planning in this build though, and I’m sure some enthusiasts will enjoy it.

 

When I came out of my dark ages, I thought collecting LEGO sets was silly.  I still do.  I want parts.  However, when I started to stumble on collectible minifigs, I really enjoyed them.  At first, I stuck to my rule that everything I own must be listed for sale on bricklink.  I began collecting all the CMFs by putting the cheapest few of each minifig on my wanted list, so that if I placed an order at any of those stores, I’d know to buy it because it was the cheapest available.  I’d then turn around and list it for a higher price.  This strategy was working well.  It was satisfying my need of “gotta catch ‘em all” while maintaining a reasonable investment.  All was going fine, until I was only missing a handful of figs to have a complete set…I started questioning why I had been accumulating these…I needed to stop the madness and display the full collection!  I betrayed my words and have deemed CMFs my guilty collection.

But, how to display them?  I’m not the only one wanting to do this.  A quick search around the internet for what other collectors do provided some interesting and pretty solutions, but none struck me as “right”.  With LEGO releasing a new series frequently, a fixed height/width solution wouldn’t be scalable.  A stair-like display would easily grow out of control.  Using store bought display cases seemed like cheating and expensive, and also took up too much real estate since you can’t stack them.  So, necessity inspired creativity.

IMG_1479My “modules” snap into a rotating stand.  Each row of 4 spins independently.  Number of rows is customizable.  Easy to take down and store, easy to swap out modules, and easy to expand.  Each module is built using the color of the corresponding series.  A notable challenge here was series 5, which uses azure, but between the medium azure and dark azure available in parts, neither match well.  My solution here was Maersk blue, a color exclusive to Maersk sets.  As luck would have it, that color matches the question marks in the packaging perfectly AND it comes in all the needed brick, tile, and slope parts!  As far as I can tell, I’m the first and only person to make this match.

I do have the LDD file if you’re interested in building one.

 

I still have to build the module for the olympic figs.  Since there are only 9, not sure if I’ll make it the standard size or not.  I also have to come up with a solution for the individually released figs, like the BR guy, toy soldier, and whatever else comes with the minifig stand.  Balance to the stand may be a factor with both.  Anyway, this might be a good solution for any collection of minifigures, as the size of the case and number is customizable and interchangeable.  I left a 4 x 4 tiled area on top to use the number decal from the old soccer sets, as I did with my version of Settlers of Catan, and have the sticker applied according to the series they represent.  It could also be applied to the front vertical bricks, or you could event get some custom printing done.  I should also try to come up with a nice top for the stand too…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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