Weekly Photo Challenge: To Build Or Not To Build

To Build Or, Not To Build

That’s not a hard question at all. I’ve mentioned my love of LEGOs before, but I haven’t really taken any photos of them. Considering this week’s challenge calls for something awesome among the mundane, these little bricks were perfect. Yes, that’s a Hamlet-themed figure, my favorite of the bunch (except maybe the Goth Girl. She’s adorable). Yes, that is also the LEGO Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background; I get one of the Architecture sets every year for Christmas. It’s a fun, geeky way to inspire more traveling and building.

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Daily Prompt: LEGOs For Life

Hey, folks. Yesterday’s Daily Prompt was all about toys. Specifically, the ones you played with as a child, and the ways they affected your adult life. I could spend all day writing about how video games have shaped me; I learned how to use an Atari 2600 joystick around the same time I learned to walk, I could speed run through Mega Man X like a record-setting pro, and I’ve played just about every Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and major fighting game released in America. I don’t play as religiously as before – though I have a tendency to play Tetris as I’m watching Jeopardy – but the 90s gamer geek culture is thoroughly engrained in my personality. However, it’s not all that I am, nor is it my only influence. Besides, video games aren’t actually toys; they’re part of an emerging medium, much like films were in the last century. When it comes to toys, I can think of only one thing:

LEGOs.

I don’t think I need to expound of the virtues of those amazing building blocks; it seems like common knowledge. It even got its own feature length, award-winning movie in 2014! It makes you think and create, limited only by the extent of your imagination and patience. Unlike video games, it allows you to play and build with something tangible; you can see and physically touch the fruits of your labor, and thus feel accomplished for it. On my fifth birthday, I was given the Black Seas Barracuda. Even by modern LEGO standards, it’s an amazing, massive piece of work: 865 pieces, eight characters, cannons that actually fire, the folding stern that lets you see inside…So good. The adults apparently didn’t care that it was supposed to be for kids aged 9-12; they just set up a table, opened the box, handed me the instructions, and let me work. It took a couple of weekends – my parents were divorced – but I built that ship myself before I started first grade. It’s still sitting in storage somewhere, a remnant of a childhood long past.

Needless to say, building it (and many others to follow) played an important role in how I turned out. For me, it was another puzzle to solve; I grew up noticing the little pieces that made up life. When I read, I could understand things like characterization and theming long before I knew those were even words. When I drew with crayons, I didn’t just choose random colors; I asked how we knew that the colors we saw were the real ones. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I freaked out a few adults with that. The more I learned, the more pieces I found, the more I could understand reality and how it all tied together. As an adult, I have so many interests in both nature and the sciences; I love a great sunset, and even more because I understand the physics and astronomy behind it. I can walk on the beach and feel the sand between my toes, and imagine the time it took for the waves and wind to grind the particles down. There’s so much out there, and so few see it…

By the way, I never outgrew LEGOs. No one should. I have a few vats of assorted pieces at home, and I’ve made a tradition of getting one of the Architecture sets every Christmas. A shelf in my room has the Empire State Building, John Hancock Center, Seattle Space Needle, Burj Khalifa, Sydney Opera House, Big Ben, and Leaning Tower of Pisa. They’re not quite as grand as the old sets, but they’re a nice reminder of my travels and places I’ve yet to see. In that sense, LEGOs are inspiring me in a completely different way now. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy, Or: Have A Beary Christmas!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy, Or: Have A Beary Christmas!

This Weekly Photo Challenge was hard for me. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m not exactly the most joyful person ever. But I’m sure seeing a huge teddy bear (seriously, the thing is almost as big as I am!) ought to do the trick for many children.

The Telescope And The Not-So Big Gift

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about desire. No, not the steamy kind. This is about something you always wanted for Christmas or birthday as a child, but never got. Most kids in the late 80’s/early 90’s would probably say a Super Nintendo, Stretch Armstrong, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Turtle Power!). But of course, I just had to be the weird one; I wanted a telescope. Not one of those lame kiddie ones, but an actual, legit telescope I could take into the backyard and look at the stars.

Learning about Galileo and watching the Endeavour launch might have been an influence.

Yeah, you can probably imagine how that Christmas went down. Even though I was struggling with long division, I was still savvy enough to know that a telescope was a Big Gift. I knew that kids got the Big Gifts only when they were really good and their parents were rich enough. I knew I was set in the former – I was the #1 Reader in my class – but definitely not the latter. I understood that my mother was working hard just to keep the essentials running, so Big Gifts weren’t likely to happen. However, I failed to notice the more obvious: I was living in the suburbs. With so much light coming from the other houses, stargazing would have been feeble at best. Besides, it’s not like they’d let a little kid go wandering around the neighborhood at night. Nevertheless, I put the telescope on my wishlist and crossed my fingers.

…And my toes and eyes.

I didn’t get it, of course. Pretty sure I got some books and a sweater. However, someone must have decided to meet my wish halfway; a few Christmases later I was surprised to receive the LEGO Space Shuttle Launch Pad. That thing was so good, it became a fixture in my room for almost a decade. It’s still one of my all-time favorite sets. For a kid who knew better than to expect too much, that was a Big Gift all its own.

To Build, Or Not To Build?

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To Build, Or Not To Build?

That is not a hard question at all:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Sets and Pieces of outrageous Fortune
Or to take Fingers against a Pile of bricks,
And by connecting end them: to build, to design
No more; and by a design, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That LEGO is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To build, to design,
To design, perchance to Imagine; Aye, there’s the brick tub,
For in that design of death, what ideas may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Creativity of so long child-life:
For who would bear the Bricks and Pieces of time,
The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised memories, the Nostalgia’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Brick Separator? Who would Box Sets bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after completion,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Builder returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear the joy we have,
Than fly to other toys that we know not of.
Thus LEGOs doth make Creators of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Inspiration
Is brightened o’er, with the brilliant cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents go forth,
And lose the name of Boredom. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Blog
Be all my ideas remembered