Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I didn't get to write about Hawaii.


I went there to see an FLL tournament. And this has been somethingthat has been inplanning for a couple of years.


Ever since I went to the World Festival in Atlanta two years ago, I have been wanting to meet the team from Hawaii - I met them and wrote about them in an issue of BrickJournal. The team was a great group of kids, and the coaches were really nice to let me watch and take notes.

As things happen with the community, I got to meet more people and I met Nelson Yziarry online, and we started chatting online. We became friends and he invited me to come to Hawaii. After some cooridination and some logistic planning, I was set to go...

But it wasn't quite that easy. I missed my flight and had to d some reshuffliing for starters. I was a few hours late as a result. But that was the worst thing to happen...this was a great trip.

I saw a great tournament and met the team coaches to the old team (the members have completely changed) and was really impressed. The state education board now supports FIRST LEGO League, and the teams came from all the islands, so it was a large event.

Nelson's club had a display too - and it had a nice assortment of models, from a model of a loacal theater by Roy gal to a model of Optimus Prime (the original one) by Patrick Yziarry to ...well, there was a nice assortment.

Afterthat. I hung around for a few days to take in the place...and it was great.

many thanks to Nelson and Lori for being such gracious guests, and also Patrick for the hysterical chat we got into. Also Nelson's mom, and Kevin and Dawn Dang from the FLL team - they are great people! I really had a great time there....

and speaking of great times,

I hope that all of you are having a great Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


You know, it's awful busy these days.

At any given time I have at least two things to attend to, and my deadlines are pretty much NOW. To which my answer is usually, "How soon is NOW?'

But I have to stop things every so often to gettsome things out.

Like now, or NOW.

In the past couple of months, I have been out of state and out of continent. The activities that I have gone to have to do with BrickJournal in terms of covering and participating...

The first event was the Festival of the Masters in Orlando, Florida. Located in Downtown Disney, this is an event that is a large (VERY large) crafts festival. Estimated traffic for this year was 300,000. And the Greater Florida LEGO Users Group had a display at the LEGO Imagination Center.

For me, the equation of LEGO and Disney adds up to a thing I cannot resist. I have been a Disney fan since about 1994 - on a lark, I took a job at the Disney Store. And I ended up staying for four years, and then transferring to Disney World and working at DisneyQuest. I learned a a lot in those years, including the importance of being positive.

Since then, I have doing what I can to get to the parks, as it's oneplace where I can basically forget everything to have fun. I finally got back after 6 years last year. And I returned this year, and I was able togo to the parks after the event.

Festival of the Masters is always fun for me - I get to relax and show off a model or two. Last year, I brought my old model of the Nautilus from the Disney movie "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." And did it hit a chord at Downtown Disney - The older crowd recognized it, and also remembered the long-gone ride at the Magic Kingdom. That was a really cool moment for me. This year, I rebuilt it as a waterline model, mainly because the display model didn't really work so well in a layout. Now, the Nautilus can be put in a train layout:-).

This time it was placed in the ocean fighting the squid in the movie. Along with that, I brought along my Star Trek microships (the theme of the display was 'Vs." - good vs. bad, Starfleet vs. Klingon, etc.). Other members brought in some really neat models - Todd Thuma did a Spy vs. Spy model from Mad magazine, KK Quah did a layout from "300" and a "War of the Worlds" layout. Robin Warner did a Batman setup, and Mike Huffman did a Peter Pan layout. There was also a Harry Potter layout by Scotty (no , I don't know his last name - I'm bad about that) and there were other things too.

This is a pretty straightforward public event and I really enjoy it - there's a lot of interaction that happens and we all get to talk about the models and the GFLUG members talk about the club and what they do. And with the traffic, there are a LOT of questions and people. It also helps that the LEGO Imagination Center has an event to go on as well - a master build of some sort. THis year it was a build of a 6 foot tall version of R2-D2 - with lights and sound. Master Builder Dan came back to coordinate the build and have a fun time and so outside we were displaying and inside he was building with the public.

With each visit I have stayed at Mike Huffman's place, and I should thank him and his wife Erika here. They are great hosts and they live literally behind the Magic Kingdom. Really. As in, you can FEEL the 9pm fireworks. Andto get to their place, you can drive through Disney property. Way cool in my book.

This year was really nice for me because I was made an honorary GFLUG member:-) I got it mainly because I showed up to the display with stuff from North Carolina:-). I'm very happy with that and thank the members for inducting me. They are a great group to hang out with and display.

As for Disney World, it's always fun!

About two weeks later, I went to Hawaii. Why? Well...

More later...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

what, me write?

It's been a LONG time since last I wrote here (and in the Journal webpage too, for that matter) - it's been a matter of being too busy to settle down and write. In the past month, I have been to Florida and to Hawaii, and both had something to do with LEGO activities.

I'll give both of those trips separate entries to the blog, as there are some things I want to say about each.

But I also want to keep people posted on what is going on with the magazine, at least the parts that I can say. While I do my best to keep as open as possible, there are certain things that I do have to keep under lock and key.

If you are in the US and in some countries, (European, but I am not familiar with which  countries specifically)  you can order BrickJournal  at the comic book store. You can order now (essentially preordering) and pick up the issue when it's released. I don't know about deposits (in my experience, deposits are not needed) from place to place, so you might want to call your local comic store. These orders are being done by Diamond Comic Distributors, who gave us a nice feature in their catalog and website!

Also, Ingram Distribution is distributing to newsstands in the US and possibly internationally. I say this because the website for it isn't very specific in terms of international distribution. If you want to help out the magazine either preorder at a comic store or inquire about special orders at your favorite bookstore. It's very important to place an order or subscribe - the magazine's run is determined by the number requested. There will be a few more printed, but if you are interested in getting the mag, ordering it will guarantee you an issue.

To all of you internationally, there appears to be an international distributor, but I need to get things confirmed beforehand.

As to the actual issue status, it's completed for the most part - there are some final proofreading to do and addition of some information (barcodes), but besides that it's done. So what's in it? Well, I'll be posting some teasers on the BrickJournal webpage very soon.

There's some fun stuff! But more on that later.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The word is getting out....

BrickJournal has been noticed by some different places - not the usual LEGO-oriented sites. This is the result of having the publisher work on the marketing.

I'm very happy with this - part of BrickJournal has been being unconventional. To be an outreach, the magazine has to reach out. And there are a few things that care not noticed by the AFOL community that others notice. Like this notice.

I have a degree in Environmental Design, with a core study in Industrial Design, so it's a really nice compliment for BrickJournal to be called a "slick" magazine. Especially since my grades were not that good at all at  Design School.

There's also another note over here.

And this came from a press release from the publisher. Did I prod him to do this? No. Did I push for anything? No.

I let him do what he does best. And that has been the key to BrickJournal's success. I set goals and let people loose to reach them. I haven't been disappointed with what I have gotten with that approach.

Speaking of which, some articles are coming in....things are naturally going up a notch.

I'm pretty happy.

Oh yes, for those wondering: The magazine starting out will be 80 pages plus cover. Once we get some advertising, page counts can go higher.

And there appears to be a ship date: February 19, 2008.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Finding out some things...

BrickJournal will be selling compendiums of back issues 1- 9 next year. Since they will be books, the compendiums will have a little more accessibilty internationally.

Also, BrickJournal has distribution set up with Diamond Comics Distributors. If you buy comics, you probably know who these people are. In the US and Canada, they are big. DCD also has a catalog (Previews) to order that it sells - and BrickJournal will be listed in the December issue with TwoMorrow's other publications. You can order it at a comic shop and not worry about shipping!

Diamond also distributes overseas, but I do not know what countries it specifically ships to (Europe, Asia are mentioned). I guess the best idea ids to visityour local comic shop and see if they carry Previews magazine. If they do, you can get the Journal.

also is going to distributed by Ingram Periodicals, which works with the big booksellers, like Barnes and Noble.

Am working on other international distribution channels. More info as I get it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doing weekend funstuff....and some news about BrickJournal staff

I spent the last weekend in Washington DC.

I really like the city, and I have gotten to know a lot of people through the LEGO Users Group and LEGO Train Group there. This has only gotten me to like the place even more, although I used to visit often before I got out of Dark Ages.

Back then, I would go to Silver Spring (on the Maryland side of DC) and stay with my little sister (then a nurse in the Army stationed at Walter Reed Army Hospital), who usually come up with something to do, like going to the Kennedy Center to see a musical or something like that - so I got a little culture. It's something that I still do once in a while.

Now I go to LEGO displays and maybe a meeting. I can only go once a month, if that much, so it's either one or the other. This month I went to a display in Reston, Virginia called Autumn Adventure. It's a kid's event, where there are arts and crafts and entertainment (usually a singer that is...well...tune-impaired, I guess, and a clog dancing group).  As displays go, it's pretty easy and on the surface, a pretty average thing to do.

However, under the surface, it's a wonderful thing. I love to 'spread the word about the LEGO hobby,' so this is a perfect thing for me. Whether running a robot or talking about building to interested people, it's fun. And seeing kids when they see displays, or understand how a robot works, as well as adults, makes my day, or weekend.

There was a lot kids that built at the build tables, and just as many that saw the train display. And some adults too.

Now part of fun is funny for me, and a lot of funny things happened to me too. Coming into town is a 4.5 hour dive for me, and usually, I am coming with a good frame of mind. This time it was a little different. I had a rough week. And I was thinking of not so happy things, so I was a bit stressed. It showed in how I dealt with a small annoying and ultimately embarrassing thing that happened during dinner when I got into DC.

I met up with Tony Perez, a member of the train club, and also a cousin of mine (small world) and ate at the local Silver Diner. Nice place, big meals, relaxing atmosphere, and one of the few places still open late Friday night in that part of town. We got in, and had to contend with a very busy waiter, and while waiting, I noticed a table sign that mentioned there was a wireless network in the restaurant.

I purchased an iPhone, and this was a good time to play with it - I've had it for just over a month, and I can tell you it's a great device. Mainly because it makes my office much more mobile. And I wanted to see if things could work in the diner. So I turn on the phone, and let it sniff out the wifi...which it does, and after a few moments, it pops up the network, which I connect.

A moment later, the web page shows the Silver Diner entry page, and things look pretty straight forward, except...you need an account and password. I glance over the webpage, and it states in clear sentences, "Please ask your server for account and password."

I got very confused very quickly, looking on the page and miving the page to see where the server was so I could prompt it. I was a little teed off - how could I access a server if I couldn't get into the system? I mean, what it was telling me was that I needed server access to get the server information...which was lame.

Tony noticed my exasperation, and asked me what the problem was. "I need to ask the server, and I can't get to the server!" I blurted. Tony looked at me for a moment and started laughing.

"It means that server." Tony replied, pointing to the waiter who was running from table to table (he was one of two that were working that night, and it was busy!). Well, then I understood and started laughing too.

I was too focused on things to relax, and this was a sign to loosen up. So I did.

The event was Saturday (the next day) and I showed up way early, and set things up completely wrong (I don't like being led over the phone:-))but things worked out and the display went on with no snags.

One thing odd about the DC group - very few do anything with the NXT. I am the only one with any experienece (which isn't much) so I get to be the FIRST LEGO League spokesperson by default. So I ended up talking to some people about that over the day - even Junior LEGO League, which is something I  only know a little about. I do want to do a lot with FLL though. BrickJournal is working on covering FLL as a priority, as it's a positive part of the community that is a bit of a low-profile thing.

I spent a good part building the spider from the Monster Dino set for the display (it had a Halloween theme, so a spider seemed like the right thing to build) and after completing it I discovered that it doesn't go very straight. Sad thing is a boy about 14 years old told me what was wrong - the two motors that run the spider are different sizes, so they are geared to try to compensate, but it doesn't work very well at all, except backwards, when the weight f the battery pack helps with traction. So that was another humbling moment.

The train display ran well, with some Halloween items on the tables including a haunted house and a corn maze. There was a Thomas train and a MOC train and the Santa Fe train, and all of this was run with a 9v track linked to batteries.

After the event, we all went to dinner and LEGO shopping. And there was a lot of chatter about the LUGNET chaff that has been going on, and also about events.

You can see pics from Robert Gurskey here.

Sunday I spent goofing off on a beautiful day. Next time, I bring hiking gear:-) The leaves are changing color and falling, and there's something nice about the rustle of the leaves on the sidewalk.

On other subjects:

The contributors of BrickJournal have been doing some great things lately:

Melody Krützfeldt has her own section in LEGO Factory for making furniture for the Modular House standard. You read about her here. You can see her models here.

Christopher Deck, our Star Wars MINI modeler (most of the time) started a section on his web page for Stargate minis. You can see his page here.

Bryce McGlone from way back in Issue 2 is up to something really cool...

Joe Evangelista, from the past two issues, is doing video for the BrickJournal website.

And me?

I am doing a lot more than people know:-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

fun info coming out later...

not that it's big news, but it's a relatively new piece of info.

Can't say anything until later though. Take a look at BrickJournal.com

Thursday, October 18, 2007

So what's been going on?

I haven't been able to post about Day 3 of Brickcon, as I have been pretty busy.

I had a really fun time at the convention, and I would like to congratulate Wayne Hussey and staff for having a fun event! It wasn't long enough for me to spend the time I wanted with friends old and new, butI will be back next year...and they already have a venue set up.

There are many ways to do an event, and Brickcon is a great example of how a convention can be appealing to both the AFOLs and public.

I have pics on my Flickr account and video will be showing up on teh BrickJournal website and Youtube.

On another subject, BrickJournal is going to print.

There have been a lot of comments about the Journal because of the printing and change in model of BrickJournal to a business model. It's been a bit frustrating to see the negative remarks, as most are by people who haven't seen what has to be done to get to this point.

BrickJournal cannot be kept free and be printed. And unless there is a benefactor who is willing to drop a sizable amount of money with no strings attached for printing, it's not going to happen. Getting a small number of issues will always be expensive - take a look at Lulu's printing for issue, and you'll see things pretty clearly.

The only way to get a decent price would be to get a large print quantity. Not dozens, or hundreds, but thousands. And this has to be at one printer - one 10,000 print run will be more expensive than two 5,000 print runs.

Why is that? It's because setup on a press is the expensive part of printing. Placing the printing plates takes time and money. Turning on the press and running it is cheap. So the idea is to maximize time running the press and get as many issues as possible. Lulu has a different, much more expensive mode of printing because it literally prints to demand. Magazines print to anticipated demand based on orders and then projecting.

Shipping is an issue because of the many different places worldwide - but most shipping is governed by countries. I am working on other ways to take care of this, but until I get some definite information, I cannot say anything at this time.

The comments about charging for previously free material are also a bit misinformed. Here's a question: If you had a choice of free material and material that you have to pay for, what would you go for?

Here's another question: If you knew that something on sale was going to become free, would you buy it?

Here's another question: If you could purchase a printed magazine or download a copy for free, what would you do?

And one final question: If you needed to fund your magazine, including contributors and staff, how would you support them if you cannot sell anything?

These are the questions I had to answer. And some answers I didn't like but had to follow.

Everything that is going on is going toward making BrickJournal a sustainable enterprise. The mailing list being created at TwoMorrows is one that is AFOLs and other interested people - it is a unique listing and one that can help the Journal in determining where to get issues sent to. revenues from download will be used to subsidize printed compendiums of back issues.

Ultimately, BrickJournal will increase awareness of the hobby everywhere. And that will help all of us.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

NWBC Day 2

The second day pf the convention was a pretty busy one - this was a public day and at 11 am, the place was opened for everyone to see.

Some neat things were around to see:

The Crate Contraption - Gus Janssen built a course for a bunch of robots to move crates of soccer balls around, including a crane, and a few vehicles.

FIRST LEGO League - The Gothic Lawn Gnomes team was working on their robot for this year's challenge!

Mecha Godzilla - (there were two of them!)

Moonbase - some modules and construction areas - and more than a few space craft,

Train/Town - Nice buildings and skyscrapers.

And yacking with everyone is a lot of fun.

Afterward, saw Transformers the Movie at the IMAX. Wow.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

NWBC Day 1

Wow, what a day...

Got in in the morning and took pics all day. Also talked quite a few people, like Steve DeCraemer, who built a hearse in Model Team scale. And Keith Goldman, Ryan Rubino, and Mike Rutherford, who got together and built a simple astounding layout. I was able to ge my micro stuff out too.

I also ended up being timekeeper to the Millennium Falcon Speed Build. THe previous record was 2 hours 53 minutes, and...this team got 2 hours 49 minutes! I ended up getting pics of the build and a timelapse of most of the build. The battery died on the camera, and so there is a 15-20 minute gap while batteries were found and replaced. The LEGO Group had a camera setup that was much more impressive that filmed the build.

There also was some information on the upcoming trains - pretty positive news actually. Since I was watching over the speed build, the other Joe went to it ad got information. I will be getting more info about this for the Journal.

Opening ceremonies were pretty laid back - some info the upcoming activities and prize drawings. It's much more relaxed in NWBC than in other cons.

So some fun stuff (and nice eateries, too)! And I met anc chatted with:

Keith Goldman
Mike Rutherford
Ryan Rubino
Wayne Hussey
Thomas Rafert
Phil Eudy
Steve Witt
Roger Cameron
Steve Gerling
Gus Janssen
and many many others...

Now, to Saturday!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pulling into NWBrickcon...

And after 7 hours and two airliners later, I am in Seattle.

I am rooming up with Joe Evangelista at the Best Western Executive Inn(I think). It's about a ten minute walk to the event, and a pretty nice room for a hotel, Wireless is free too, which is reallly nice!

The location of the convention is a really different location compared to other conventions that I have been to before Unlike the others, NWBC is in a place that is really close to other attractions.

How close? I have to walk PAST the Seattle Space Needle to get to the venue. A science fiction museum is just down the way, and there's IMAX theatre just as close. There's also more than a few eateries and places to munch at, so the location is very nice.

The venue space is not bad either. It's 13,000 sq ft, and split into two rooms. One room is sale stuff it appears, and the other is display. Since it's Thursday (now Friday) the early birds have come in...and wow, there are some astounding models showing up. How astounding? Go to my Flickr gallery!

However, not all was great. I brought a shoebox of micro in, and by the time it got to Seattle, it was pretty badly destroyed. Joe E's stuff wasn't much better. But things are being rebuilt.

I also got to meet Wayne Hussey, the coordinator of NWBC, and found out he's a great person to talk to. His planning is good too. So things are falling into place as this event begins.

Highlights already:
Godzilla (okay, Mecha Godzilla)! At about 4 foot tall!
Titanic Titanic (at over ten feet in length)
Totem Pole
KeithLUG's layout!
War of the Worlds tripod

...and that's just a starter....

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thoughts here and there...

Well, the 9v announcement was released, and while sad, it wasn't very surprising. There have been many discussions about 9v and what its future iis, and to be honest, its future lies in the community.

I firmly believe that 9v will persevere. I am very interested to see what the LEGO Group is developing for the Power Functions system that will align with train, and am excited with the possibilities that will be opened. There are some challenges that will have to be addressed, but this too will be dealt with.

From my experience with PF motors and systems, I can see the potentials an limitations so far:

IR remote, with different channels.
NXT integration (which could possibly mean Bluetooth)
Multiple trains on single track
true building with a train set - there are no train motor trucks - you may have to build it!
Possible integration for lighting

IR remote:-) - line of sight challenges
Power - batteries is a definite limitation, with weight and available power.
Motor size - the smallest size now is almost too big for 9v train bodies.

The things that need to be looked at right now (and I am assuming they are looking at it, with the AFOL group) are the production things: There has to be a wheel setthat links to the PF motors in some way - the 9v motor is in a train truck...PF will most likely have a built solution or an adapter.

What I think is neat is that the motor system is becoming  a cross platform LEGO solution, which is a very welcome thing. It's a business-smart solution that can be a great long-term solution for electronics.

So I am looking forward to seeing what happens.

On other subjects, BrickJournal has been sent to the web publisher. So it's done (for me, anyways). And I am very happy with it. There are some neat things in it and an announcement in it:-)

And congratulations to the staff of Railbricks! They launched their magazine and yes, I got a copy. It's pretty good. It's nice to see other projects start. and I wish the best to them.

Now that BrickJournal's current issue is done, I can turn my attention to BrickJournal.com - there have been new things added to the web service that I have to sit down and figure out. There are some easy things, like live chat for members, and not so easy things, like creating data pipes for feeds that are multi lingual, which can be really cool! I have to take a good look at all of this first.

And I will be at NWBrickcon! With maybe one MOC. Sorry, I have been building something else:-)

I'm also trying to figure out NXT building. I got the new MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book from No Starch Press, and am getting my way around the programming.

So new day, new things, new adventures!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

BrickJournal 9 is....

big: 148 pages
diverse: Articles come from Europe, the US and Asia
fun: with LOTs of instructions
inspiring: with a story on FIRST LEGO League and a story on a person setting up MINDSTORMS classes in Jamaica.

The issue is in final proof, with release set for this week.

Woo hoo!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yep, I should be working.

am doing some almost final stuff for the Journal - I say almost because I have to paginate the whole thing.

But I have to stop and rest for a moment...I have done about 80 pages of layout in the past four days...and there's a bit more coming in.

There are going to be some different articles in the Journal this time around. We got a display article from China and FLL in Jamaica, and some really nice and longer than usual articles from some events. There are some articles on builders and building, and more instructions!

Am I excited? Yes I am! Tired, but excited. The layouts are falling into place, and I got some last minute pictures for a story and am writing up a report...always to the wire.

But I have to say I completely love it!

PS The MINDSTORMS NXT Idea book is out, and I plan to review it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

banging my skull on an article...

So I am working on an article for the Journal..and it's been a tough one.

It's pretty odd how I ended up writing - I started writing because I had some contacts I wanted to have in the mag. Now, it's because I am the forward edge of the magazine and as a result, the one finding different things than the expected community articles.

There's a lot more out there about LEGO building than we know, and I want to find those things. I want to touch on as many aspects of the community as I can - there's something for everyone to see and if they want, join.

My article is about an educator who is creating robotics labs in Jamaica using LEGO MINDSTORMS. I have been online with him and talked to him on the phone, and he's a great person to talk to. His name is Marvin Hall.

This story is different from the usual article, but I feel strongly that the Journal show how our hobby can inspire people. What Marvin has done is use MINDSTORMS to teach technology to at-risk children in the Jamaican inner-city. Where there are guns and war, he is giving hope. And he doing this using LEGO sets.

The bad thing about writing these articles is thatI have to get a lot of information and then find the voice of my article and put everything off topic aside. And that's unfortunate. Talking with Marvin was a very secial moment for me, as he's got enthusiasm and passion in what he wants to do. He's a person that wants to give hope and pass what he has learned to the next generation. I was moved to tears on some of the stories he told me. He is a person of vision, and one that has become a ray of hope to his country.

In searching online for information on him, I found many articles and his blog, and there were some wonderful things that I got to read. One was an article in www.jamaicans.com. he has an interview, and he has some advice to students - and they are things that I try to keep in mend when I am writing and looking for stories:

From Marvin:

Whatever your field of study, make sure you love it. Act in spite of fear, take the risk annd immerse yourself in whatever you beleive in. you will not find your passion without exploration. most importantly, beleive in yourself at all costs. Some say that the most powerful force on earth is knowing how to be yourself. Five specific points for the students would be:

1. Keep on learning and never think you know enough
2. Develop your logic, critical thinking and problem-solving skills
3. Find a procedure to learn anything in the way that suits you best 
4. Maintain your enthusiasm from failure to failure, and learn from your mistakes
5. Collaborate with, and value the opinions, ideas and expressions of the community of learners around you.

It was very humbling to listen to him. But it also was inspiring. There's so much more to do, and so much to pass on.

Such as hope. We can make tomorrow better.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Whoa - long time!

Been busy as of late, so it's been quiet at the ol' blog.But there's a story on ABC about LEGO animation here:


Take a look!

Friday, August 24, 2007

To those at 1000steineland -

Have fun - I wish I was there!

Things didn't quite workout for me to go there this year.

But Mel is there to get some reports and interviews, so that's cool - she's getting some great information for all of us.

So hope everyone in Berlin is having fun - I'm thinking about all of ya!

Some odds and ends...

Am starting up BrickJournal 9 now, so things are getting busy again for me - as in production busy. THis is different from usual busy, because I focus, which means that I disappear from the local scene while I write, correspond, and otherwisie set up the mag.

But I need to get back to telling about some stuff at teh Billund visit....

On Monday, I was to talk to Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, LEGO CEO for a video interview. At that time, I still hadn't gotten my lost luggage, so I was wearing the same clothes from Sunday...but I did shower. That morningI talked with Jens and Nate (as mentioned earlier) and then chatted briefly over lunch with Nate, Jamie Berard and some other designers.

Jamie is a designer in the Creator team, and he has done the Fast Flyers set and the Cafe Corner set. He's also a really cool person and is easygoing. I sent him a note about my luggage predicament, and he offered some clothes if I needed them.

I also told him about the pending video interview and he suggested borrowing the company video camera - LEGO *does* have video resources on hand. I didn't think about that because, well who let ME borrow their equipment? Then again, they haven't seen me use equipment before, so that may be a good thing.

The discussion was good, and I had some ideas on how to pull this off - and I had to go back to my hotel 30 minutes away by foot - mainly to get my notebook I left and also so I could ask about the luggage. My notes from JEns and Nte's interviews were on various  papers I had in my bag - not good form.

Once I got my notebook, I went to the checkout desk and had them ask about my luggage...and after a few calls, I found out - they were found! And better yet they were ontheir way to teh hotel! The luggage was to come in late afternoon - too late for the interview, but still a great piece of news!

So I packed my bag and headed off to teh corporate office. This is a nice facility, with a large lounge and reception desk. I came in thirty minutes early to ask for the camera and hopefully get it.

However, the receptionist didn't quite understand my English very well, so I explained that I was to meet Jørgen Vig Knudstorp (and had to write his name because my English pronounciation apparently mangled his name beyond recognition) and I was early to see if I could borrow a video camera. The receptionist smiled when she saw the name and thought for a moment, then directed meto a lounge to wait.

There was some movement at the receptionist's desk, and then the glass doors to the Corporate Management opened, and one of the admin assistants greeted me. She expleined that teh receptionist didn't quite understand what I wanted, so I explained it out and what had happened to me. The admin thaought for a moment and told we (with a smile) that she would go to Corporate Communications to see about getting what I wanted. She went to the other side of the lounge to another office.

A few moments later, another woman greets me from the other office - she's from Corporate Communcations and asks me what I need - I just need a camera and tripod - no lights. She goes a different direction and disappears.

When she returns, she has a long bag that is zipped closed. It's long, and I am a little surprised - I had completely forgotten that what they have most likely will be professional-level equipment - far beyond what I am used to using.

The bag held the tripod. A big nice tripod. She went back and returned with a smaller cube shaped bag. Andin it was a camera that was better than mine...she explained that she didn't know how to use it, so I was a bit on my own on figuring it out.

Hm. New tripod, new camera, need to figure it all out in 15 minutes or less.  A typical challenge for me:-)

The camera, after looking all over it, turned out to be a big brother of the camera I have, so while everything was in different places, I could run the cam. Once I found the remote, I was okay - it looked just like the remote to my camera. The tripod was easy too. I took a look at the mic which was connected to a box and a matching boxwith an antenna...wirelss...Nice, but that was a new item to me. I turned them both on and plugged in the reciever tothe cam, but couldn't get it to work. no time to figure it out either. I only had thirty minutes to talk.

By this time there about five minutes left, and Jamie and a friend of his wander into the building, and we meet very briefly - just in time for JVK to open the corporate management office to greet me!

So I got in all the equipment and go to his office and start setting up - he's busy, but also very friendly. And in chatting before the interview,  I found out he's a Train fan. I had forgotten my questions that I was going to ask him, but he had them on hand and gave me a copy (really cool!)

Before I knew it,  the camera was started and in a flash, thirty minutes passed and I got an interview...and I took everything down and returned the camera to the admin assistant - and I owe them a tape:-)

DId I use my questions? Not all of them. Did I ask any hard questions? Not really. I asked questions about him and how he looks at his responsibilities - I wanted a conversation with him about the company, his part in it and community.

I need to edit the video, but assuming the sound is good (which is a question) you will see this online soon!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

LEGO Serious Play Released!

One aspect of LEGO building that is starting to become noticed is the process behind it.

I'm not talking about the simple "how I do it"process, but the play that goes into the building. We as builders do amazing models, and there's a process behind it that can be applied to our work environment.

I have been exposed to this in college on a broad sense - I have a degree in a creative field, so I have been taught the value of play in brainstorming and idea creation. for me it's called ideation. It turns out t hat LEGO building is a more 3-D way of doing this ideation. I have been trained in sketching and drawing my ideas - LEGO  lets me build my ideas.

The use of LEGO building in professional environments is now a growing idea - and  LEGO Serious Play does training sessions and workshops for people and companies interested.

They just started a newsletter last year called Pl@yground, and the newest issue can be found here:

Issue 2

For me it's interesting because LSP makes a bridge between the 'serious' work ethic (that most companies seem to have - you MUST work 37 hours, and you HAVE to do it the corporate way) and play. If more companies did it, there would be a bit more positive work environments, and that leads to good things for companies.

More coming...

I have about 20 pages of notes for the week that I have to simmer down to a workable form.

Wednesday was a lot of fun in meeting Tim Ainley, then doing lunch with some LEGO designers - what fun! I got some hints about upcoming sets (nothing big) and relaxed for the first time since I got in.

I met Megan Rothrock and Mark Stafford -  Megan is working to get in LEGO (and she is qualified) and Mark is in Playthemes and is working on some stuff....he did some ExoForce things and worked on some items in the next year. We all yacked and then got a peek at a model that Jamie Berard is working on for 1000-steineland in a week - he's building a city hall. Beautiful, too.

Aftert hat, it was off to meet Lisbeth Vallther Pallesen at the Administrative office. A video interview was scheduled, and this time I was ready. Got the video and had the questions (which I glanced at) and got set up, and started up the video, and....mispronounced Lisbeth's name.

Three times.

In a row.

Geez, you'd think I would be more professional:-)

I got a 45 minute interview that will be edited for goofy mis-takes and flubs. But this interview, like Jørgen's Vig Knudstorp's, was a lot of fun to do and will be thing stat will be seen hopefully soon on the website in some form.

After that, went to a sorta barbecue with the New Business Group and ate and played goofy (and I mean goofy:-)) games with LEGO building, trivia quizzes and otehr stuff....and the there I met some more people...including the manage of the #D department. And that was a cool discovery!!!!!

And there was one more that I can't talk about at all..........

Pictures will be coming later today from my visist - not much really except for the Idea House visit. Billund is....small. So photos after the first trip are not all that exciting.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More of Day Two

I'm going to have to be shorter because I am now pretty far behind on my notes.

So here goes: After Jens, I spoke to Nate Kuipers and a little about Technic -= he has been doing Technic models at the company and did the initial designs for the snowmobile and many alternate models:-).

After that I spent 3 hours at the idea house - including visiting the Vault. I was given a tour by Jette Orduna, and went with Melody, the Eurobureau head...wow. I got the full tour, and it's a LOT of information.

I had planned on video taping it, but the initial guide tour took too long - so I got many many pictures.

And then it was off to dinner to talk about LEGO Factory....good times...

Next: Wednesday

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Trip Day Two - The Rebound!

Well, things started fast when I was whisked off by Jan Beyer to start all the talks I was planned for. Top of the morning, and with some LEGO designers - always fun to talk with them,

I was taken to the Global Innovation and Marketing building (but wasn't allowed to any farther than the canteen - argh! It was the camera) and I was greet by Jens Kronvold, who was the designer of the Millennium Falcon. I met him first at the Toy Fair in New York, when the set was first announced. He's a pretty cool guy and what I thought would be a pretty straightforward interview became a conversation on more than a  few things, including a little on the Indy theme (nothing really groundbreaking, though, just talking about the use of bad guys as opposed to Nazis. Turns out Jens was pushing for Raiders for some time, so he was happy to see the LEGO Group get the license.

We also talked about the Falcon (of course) and some other things (again, nothing groundbreaking - turns out the Star Wars team is very hush hush about things) - there will be more UCS models coming, and more Star Wars models coming from the Clone Wars TV show..again nothing new to report. But talking about how he worked on the model was really neat, and will be part of an upcoming article.

More in a bit - off again!

Back - I interviewed Jørgen Vig Knudstorp in video....and that is a fun little story that I will recount in a little bit - watch this space!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A road trip...

So I am finishing my packing and printing...

I am going to Billund. The trip has to do with BrickJournal, of course. It's been two years since the magazine started and the LEGO Group has watched the Journal grow and mature.

They have been more than impressed with the publication and have helped out with the magazine in providing information and media when possible. And this trip is the result of the magazine being consistently released with a high level of quality.

While I am editor, I won't take full credit of the success of BrickJournal. Credit needs to be given to all the writers and photographers and artists that make each issue - I may be the person directing, without them, I'm just another person pointing a way:-).

I'm excited because I will be going to the office (which in itself is incredibly cool) and also will be spending my time finding story ideas and information for the next issue of BrickJournal. I like to say on trips like this that I will get enough information to take five years to sort out...there's so much going on to learn.

In the next three weeks, I figure, the future of BrickJournal will be finalized. There's more than the magazine being planned:-) Some subtle hints are in the website.

There's a favorite quote from Walt Disney that pretty much expresses my thoughts - he said this on a Disneyland show thah presented his next project, then the first iteration of what became EPCOT. Surrounded by planners and designers working on sketches and maps, he turned to the camera and stated,

"We know what our goals are. We know what we hope to accomplish. And believe me, it's the most exciting and challenging assignment we've ever tackled at Walt Disney Productions."

Change Walt Disney Productions to BrickJournal Media, LLC. You'll see my point of view.

I hope to update this blog through the trip - I don't know what kind of internet connection I will be able to get though. I'll be trying to post news on BrickJournal.com also.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Happy 75th Anniversary, LEGO!

There are some celebrations going on aall around for this, and I wish I could be at them.

In any case, best wishes to the LEGO Group on this milestone! I'm looking forward to the next 75 years!

Under a cool coincidence, my little sister's birthday is the same day as LEGO's anniversary. And mine is the same day as Disneyland's opening!


Monday, August 6, 2007

Looking ahead...

The site has been launched, and there's still much to be done.

Past issues have to be uploaded, and new content needs to be placed.

It's nice to know that the site is being used - I got a note about a person who went to the  Chinese LEGO display because it was on the BrickJournal page. I'm pretty happy with that because it shows that the site works.

I should note that the news from that display came from the organizers and was sent directly to the BrickJournal e-mail address. This was something that didn't come from anyone in the community - it came from outside. A very good sign to me.

mission is to show off the best of the community, and of what is going on with the hobby - many in the community believe that their theme is the community and center their views on that perception.

BrickJournal doesn't narrowcast. As editor, I firmly believe that we benefit from cross-pollination and exploring what is going on. And there's a lot.

While there are train shows, there are also art exhibitions, displays and robotics workshops going on all over. Some are small, but some are very large in scope - all of them work to bring awareness to the hobby in their areas. The Journal should be looking for these events and publicizing, and by using the calendar and articles, it can.

On another note, I get to go on a road trip this coming weekend.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

BrickJournal.com is LIVE!

After some frantic work this weekend, the webpage to the magazine is finally online!

Why did it take so long? After all, it's been two years...

Well, it took one year to get BrickJournal to a stride that I like, but I wanted to be able to do some other things too that only a website could do. Like be able to post information within hours of getting it for scoops - wouldn't it be cool to have a Toy Fair report the same day as it happening? Or an event report just as soon?

The magazine simply cannot be that responsive. And magazines as a media form aren't meant to be that way - they are usually one of the last words on a news item, as they have the longest time to get facts and information. They also tend to be the most features-oriented - so there are many stories that are not news but about people and  and newsmakers. BrickJournal follows that model, and I'm pretty proud of it.

With the website, BrickJournal is expanding to become an archive for the community, both in issues, and in information. The event calendar on the site is the most complete calendar around, with events worldwide being listed. Also, the magazine now has a true presence beyond the PDFs.

The site is also easy to manage (just a lot of pages) - so it will be easy for others on staff to add content as needed. Because I am using a webservice, if something goes down - I can call and get it fixed!

The webservice is Near-time, and I have been working with them for about two years - they were a startup that came into being about the time that I was starting to work on BrickFest 2006, and I used them to coordinate much of the event. They started on collaborative sites (essentially Yahoogroups, but much more organized) and have grown. I have grown to like them because much of their stuff is easy to work with. They like me because I was one of the first to work with their site, and I have become a beta tester of sorts. So both the Journal and Near-Time are growing and learning.

The plan for the site is to be able to post news as soon as possible and provide content that the magazine can't use - video is the first example to come to mind. BrickJournal.com is going to be a type of newsservice for the community, and I am excited with the possibilities!

Andyes, the magazine is still in the works - I need to get in touch with the publisher to establish timelines and deadlines. And there's another trip I gotta go on....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Skimming news items....

At San Diego Comic-Con, LEGO has a display with Chewbacca, R2-D2, and Threepio. There's an article with a short blurb here.

Meanwhile, at Detroit, the NMRA is showing some LEGO models...

The new thing that has caught my interest: Can event reports on my website be link to the event calendar? Hm, that would be neat to keep a running timeline..

Okay, Im really distracted (off-topic)

Marion Ravenwood is going to be in Indy 4!!!

The movie went from a really cool movie to...well, beyond that.

Why? Because Marion was the best female character to be with Indy, period. And Karen Allen, the original actress is playing her!

Okay, back to work:-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BrickJournal's site...

Yes, it's happening.

The broad vision is to archive all the stories in one site and also provide a point for both AFOLs and public to be able to see the best of the community.

The site will have the articles, news that happens between issues, and reviews and things that won't fit in the magazine. There's also going to be video and hopefully  multimedia.

There will be a public side and a subscriber side - this will be for the site, not the magazine. Those subscribing will have access to the archives and exclusive archived material.

And there's some other perks with subscriptions..

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


is going to cease operations July 31. It has been brought up to allow users to get their files.

So I am evacuating my files. There's a sadness to this, but I would be lying if I said that this wasn't going to happen. Brickshelf was a labor of love, and so it could have ceased at any time.

I am grateful to Kevin for creating this resource and maintaining it for so long. All good things must come to an end, though.

The community will have to consider what to do. I am aware of some efforts, but have no specifics to give. I support these initiatives and hope that something can be created that will be essentially Brickshelf 2.0.

With my work on BrickJournal.com, it is possible to have a mocpages type set up with photos imported - most likely this is something that could be offered to subscribers.

But I am interested to see what else is being planned. What I really want to see happen is a central point of reference for all materials, photos, clubs, etc. across the board for the AFOL community - and this would have to be supported by subscriptions. A long-range plan for BrickJournal the company is to become the repository for the community in terms of history and reference. The website would become the concordance for AFOLs.

To be clear, this is not an attempt to take over things. Far from it - it would be an effort to centralize. The website will not be another Brickwiki, but a growing resource based on the content generated for it. And the target isn't exclusively AFOLs - the magazine will be an invitation for others to see and join the community.

The event calendar is one effort to centralize information, and the result has become a webpage that is being seen by many people. Tie that in with a magazine website, and there is a draw. Anyone can see an article, check out an event, find one close to them and find out about the club hosting. And afterward, people can use the same calendar to see what happened...the calendar becomes a record of the year.

I hope that steps go in that direction.

I'm 42!! (definitely off-topic)

I was born in Fort Campbell, Kentucky on July 17, 1965.

A rather average day, except that at Anaheim, Disneyland celebrated its tenth birthday. I like to think that there's something special about my birthday being the same as Disneyland's.

That is cancelled out, though by the fact that my birthday is the same as Phyllis Diller's. Yuck. But Donald Sutherland shares my birthday, so that's not a bad thing.

So what am I doing today? Not much, really. Goingto see my parents aand relaxing for a little bit. I am pretty much old enough not to be carded and will never be mistaken for a younger age, thanks to the grey and thinning hair.

But I refuse to see my spirit grow older. I have seen many friends 'grow up' and become trapped by what they call responsibilities and obligations. Some of that is true (being married is very much a responsibility that has to be maintained), but it's saddening to see people turn away from their dreams because of the risk...it's how much we risk and sacrifice that makes our dreams so important.

I have stopped to ponder why I am doing what I am doing, and in many ways. my life has made it easy to risk..I have no commitments, no relationships to jeopardize. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain - more or less.

I am happy about my life - it's been one great adventure. Before joining the AFOL community, I did some great things, and there are more things that will be coming down the way. There have been trying times, but also wonderful times.

Right now, I am climbing a mountain that was large and even dangerous. As I have climbed the face with friends helping along the way, each step has become more and more difficult, but also more exhilarating. Looking back, it's amazing to see how far  the path has been, and what lies ahead.

I'm 42. Ten years ago, I was working at an ad agency and volunteering my time at a museum. Five years ago, I was working at a newspaper, after I had lost my agency job and worked at Disney World. I started to 'grow up' and get a bit cynical.

Two years ago, I started what became BrickJournal.

Amazing what a couple of years can do.

I'm 42.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Brickshelf gone?

I was at DC for a fun event (I will make a blog entry later on this) Saturday and came back to my hotel room Saturday night and got an e-mail: Brickshelf down?

And it is. Going to the page brings up:

Brickshelf has discontinued operation. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Whoa. About 1,900,000 pics were on board when it was shut down. Photos from all of the AFOL community are now gone...the only archive of the hobby that even had a hint of completion is gone.

Am I upset? A little.

However, I do believe that Kevin (the owner of Brickshelf) had the right to shut it down. The amount of resources that the site needs is not cheap, and donations may or may not be enough. The ads in the site only work when clicked on in quantity. If he can't afford it, then the site should be shut down.

I can see why people would be upset with the lack of notification, but most of us should have backups, right? I do...somewhere:-). I also have a Flickr account. The only thing I am upset with is that there is no central point to see MOCs anymore.

I don't understand why some are so upset and posted rather mean remarks concerning both Brickshelf and Kevin. Whether anyone likes it or not, the site was a donation/ad run site. I gave $20 in 2003. That's it. And my donation was not a contract to keep the site running for any amount of time. I gave the money to help Brickshelf succeed. I understand that the site is a labor of love for the community - and if there's not enough love, then it can disappear. And it's tough for us, but if we didn't provide enough support, then we kinda set this up ourselves.

There's still a lot that isn't known about this shutdown. For me, I will give Kevin the benefit of the doubt. Until more info comes out, we should not jump to conclusions. Kevin should be credited for creating the only centralized resource of images for the community, and he should be thanked for running it for so long. He didn't have to do this.

And we all should be looking for ways to make sure this doesn't happen again.

I'm thinking about this myself.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Something different:-)

I was busy on the computer uploading pix to be sent elsewhere, and had some time on my hands, so I decided to build something that I have been wanting to build for a couple of years...a rose. Now you might think that I have been wanting to build it for a someone, and you would almost be right:-).  But I have been enamored by the thought building graceful organic shapes....LEGO elements are not organic by any stretchof the imagination.

Also the LLCA roses that I have seen are nice, but the roses are slopes, and look like closed buds to me. I want to see petals. So I have been thinking about this for some time...how do you do overlapping petals? It's a tough challenge. And fun.

In my Dark Ages, I was deeply into origami, and one of the most incredible models was a rose - from one square piece of paper! Ithink it was a Kawasaki rose, and at one time I was able to fold one from memory - it takes about an hour to fold, but the result is paper magic:

I really enjoyed the moment the flat paper became this bulb that you bloomed with the folds. And I wondered how to do that with LEGO parts.

Now, I am not the first one to build roses. There's the LLCA version, and there is a rose bouquet built by John Neal that is pretty darned nice. His idea understands the nature of the flower - the overlap and spiral of the petals.

Another inspiration is the enchanted rose from "Beauty and the Beast." I have wanted to do something with a sculpture of that rose with a few petals onthe table...you get the idea.

So a couple of nights ago, I was stuck with a lot of time on my hands and no way to use my computer to work, so I went to build. And well, thinking about a someone led me to start thinking about building the rose.

It took me three different versions of SNOT building and an entire night, but I built this:

You can see more of it at my Flickr gallery.

The model is a lot of SNOT, as the center core is a 1x1 brick with studs on all sides. I also have flex tube in the stem so it can bend..anythingto make LEGO elements go non-traditional is good in my book:-)! The leaves are held in place with minifig neck braces with studs - this also lets me rotate the leaves to wherever I want.

The funny thing is that the rose is just like the  origami rose in that if you look at it the wrong way, it doesn't looke like a rose, but a bunch of plates. If you look the wrong way at the origami rose, it looks like a very wrinkled sheet of paper.

And that's just fine:-).

Sunday, July 8, 2007

More video from Brickworld

I ended up getting over two hours of footage to play with,  thanks to Zach Donohue, so I have been cutting videos - there's still a bit left...

The Blacktron Intelligence Agency

and another look at the Great Ball Contraption

Saturday, July 7, 2007

One person (or one video) CAN make a difference...

I got a note from Greg Banks last week. He's the coach to the FIRST LEGO League team, the PigMice. This team won the Champion's Award at the World Festival in June, and deservedly so!

The challenge for 2008 has not been revealed yet, so right now,  not much is going on, except for funding. One of neat things that has happened to me is that the video I did about the FLL World Festival has been requested by teams to help promote FLL. The PigMice did a presentation and tour at IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. What's cool is that the team is based in Portland, Oregon - IBM invited them!

Take a look at this link. This is the presentation the team did. This is not a short program, but it's a good look at FLL for everyone - the kids are delightful to watch, and they are VERY professional in their presentation.

And my video was shown!

Greg's note told me about that, but it was still a surprise to see...and this was seen by the IBM Board of Directors as well as the peple who saw this online and at the presentation. I'm proud to see this happen, as one of BrickJournal's missions is to publicize the best of the LEGO community and hobby. And it's happening - in the most surprising ways.

I made the video because I wanted to show everyone all the cool things about the Festival - and while there were some things in the video, there is so much more to see and discover. Seeing the PigMice presentation also reminds me about the most important thing about FLL: It inspires.

Watching the team answer questions at the presentation is impressive too, because IBM scientists are asking them about their robot - and they are answering!

For me, its wonderful to be able to help in some small way.

Thanks Greg!

Brickworld Indy 5.0 Racing

Indy 5.0 is a MINDSTORMS racing event, where the cars are programmed to do the run. Video is by Zach Donohue.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Brickworld Great Ball Contraption Vide

This was filmed by Zac Donahue, one of Rafe's sons!

I got some more footage and will be working toward making more videos.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Another Brickworld video

This is a video of some of the displays at Brickworld - the video was mostly taken by Zac Donahue, with some video by me.

I hope to have more set up soon.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Brickworld in just over a minute!

A time lapse of the entire weekend!

900 frames were taken for this, one every 5 minutes!

Friday, June 29, 2007

A funny story...

Now you might think that I miss certain things - as in the DC event that happened this past weekend and the Indiana Jones sets coming from LEGO.

Well, I missed the DC event completely. Indy I knew about as a low-level rumor since the beginning of the year, but really couldn't say anything (no verification) until last week...when everyone else got the scoop.

And no I wasn't too terribly happy about it. I want BrickJournal to get the scoop, if only to keep the rumors down.

So I got back from Brickworld and sent some notes to the LEGO PR team, asking them to send me any materials on these things - and I got this:

whoa...that's not what I expected. It's better.

How neat is that? I'm looking forward to the Indy sets.....

Brickworld Day 2 Expanded

Friday was an important day because I actually had  something to do. With Brickworld, I did a couple of things under the hood, so to speak (most notably the event program), so I was actually quite the relaxed person at the convention.

My task for the day was a BrickJournal presentation set for 11 am. And as usual, I had very little preparation. Things usually happen like this:

Two weeks before deadline: - I think about some ides and a presentation with slides....and then forget about it.

One week before deadline: I remember about my ideas and start thinking again about it...and then forget again.

One day before deadline, in the car: I remember again and think about doing something on my laptop...and promptly fall asleep.

Apparently, I don't like to plan presentations. I like the town square meeting, where I get to talk and field questions. I also like to take suggestions. So I usually write some really quick notes, then throw them away before I start. I know more than anyone about the subject, so I really am not afraid of the questions.

But before the presentation, I had to findthe meeting room. I found it easy enough with Mel, the European Bureau person with me. WE went to the presentation before mine: the Art of the Brick, with Adam Tucker, Royy Cook and Felx Greco. WHile this was meantto be a discussion of how Adam built his skyscrapers, this quickly became a discussion on art...which was something my brainwasn't quite ready for at that hour. And I was hungry, so Mel and I cut out to eat breakfast before my presentation.

So how was it? It was pretty good. I got soe nice feedback from the LEGO Group and teh people who attended. Many people are curious about the hardcopy date (which I am planning for winter - issue 10) and others were just curious to see what I was planning...

I did lunch with Sean Kenney, Certified LEGO Professional. He's a great guy and has offered to help BrickJournal on a number of occasions. We chatted about getting the CPs in BrickJournal more and also some other ways that BrickJournal can help out the community.

After that, it was a lot of wandering and pictures! In fact, I was called upon to take pics at teh opening ceremony and also to do a crowd picture....but more on that in a bit. I was supposed to take a pic outside of all the attendees.

My dinner was a Black Plate Sponsor dinner, so I was with Tommythe Brick Engraver, Brick Forge,LEGO, and Greg Hyland as well as the organizers. That was pretty nice. However, I noticed that it was dark outside earlier than I expected. It was overcast, os I wondered about that and asked about the picture. Plans were quickly changed to the next day.

Besides, there was teh LEGO Store shopping event later this night...and I had to take pics of that!

I got to the store and was allowed in early to take pics....the line was LONG! And once the doors opened, it was a a trickle that quickly became a flood...and there were people everywhere and the constant noise of plates and bricks being taken and thrown in tubs and cups. Sets were being bought by multiples and the lines were long and slow. But no one complained. In fact no one got upset at all...it was all fun.

Me? I didn't buy anything at all...I reached the point long ago where I cannot buy anymore until I build something.

And after that I got back to the hotel, took some more pics and called it a night...at 3 am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BrickWorld Day 1 expanded

The first day I arrived at the Westin was around noon on Thursday. Setup began at 6 pm, and the first organizattional meeting was at 4:30, so there was quite a bit of time to rela before things got into gear.

I went to Chichago with Tommy Armstrong, the brickengraver. It was a long trip from North Carolina to Illinois, and somehow, Tommy managed to do all teh driving. I would have tried, but when I was about to, I got hit with something that really pset my stomach, and that took over the rest of Thursday.

Felix Greco was our third roommate, and at checkin, I was met by Barbara Price, Steve Hassenplug's mom. For us, it was a little bit of a homecoming, as we worked together at BrickFest 2006. It was also alittle odd, too, because I wasn't a coordinator this time - I was an advisor. So I was a watcher. She was the Volunteer coordinator, so she was getting people here and ther for different tasks.

I also ran into Mike Huffman, his wife Erika, and Mike Cotterman and his wife,  Susan. I chatted with them for a bit and wandered the florr - the tables were being arranged by the hotel staff and tablecloths were being placed. And the room looked BIG.

I got pulled to help pick up some attendees at teh airport, so I help wiith that (and almost don't make it because we don't have enoough for a toll). And from there I went to teh coordinator's suite.

It was at the suite I ran into other staffers (Heather Hassenplug , Kathie Bonahoom, Abner Finley, Steve Hassenplug, and a staffer from LEGO, Simon Kent) They were finishing setting up badges and also adding a correction to the event program - I forgot to give credit to the cover artist, Greg Hyland. I didn't realize that until I ran the first proof program, and the correction was done on a file that wasn't used by the printer...

The organizational meet went with some questions, some directions, and a lot motivation. We got our registration bags and some items for being part of the event. We aso got a look at Adam's event kit, which was only completed earlier that week.

And from there, it was out to the floor, which was opened up for setup. Models were being carted in and set up - small ones like my micro mechs and large ones like Bryce McGlone's dragon and Brian Darrow's Blacktron Intelligence Agency.

There's an air of excitement that started building as more people came in with stuff. LEGO's area is full of boxes and sets - there are new Creator sets stacked up, and bags of Cafe Corner parts....and Steve Witt lets everyone build the sets for display....

I go off to dinner and then take many pictures of set up. I also talk to Kyle of Brick Forge and take a look at his stuff. VERY nice. I also meet Arthur Gugick and talka about hismodels for a bit (arcitectural models in microscale - very nice)

So things start like they should, with everyone looking forward to the weekend....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Brickworld final notes

I'm finally back home and upolading photos (I took a total of 1500 pics!) on my Flickr account. I found out that I have a couple that have to be deleted (inappropriate gesture - oops) in what I already have, so I also have to go back and check teh pics I sent out.

It's also a relatively good time for me to  try to write some better notes - I posted most of my notes at about 3am or so, I wasn't inclined to  write any detailed  notes. I apologize for that, because there wasn't much going out, and I really didn't help. I'm going to fix that now.

Here's what I experienced at Brickworld...

Monday, June 25, 2007

And it's over...

What a great event!

Brickworld went off really well, and about 5000 public showed up to see what was going on. And yes it was crowded!

But it was also a lot of fun - there was a lot of meetings going on and a lot of social things happening.

A Cafe Corner building project resulted in a 19-story behemoth being one of the landmarks of the LEGO display (not to mention all of the Creator sets that were being shown)

There was MINDSTORMS Sumo and Indy 5.0 running, so there was cheering going on in the room from time to time - and it only added to the festive feeling of the event.

Awrads were given out for outstanding MOCs and people, including the youngest and oldest attendee.

And there was a lot more...that I will be talking about in the next few days.

Til then, take a look at the pics!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Brickword Staurday...

Got to the display room at 8:30 and got pics of opening.

By 11:00 am, 500 people have come in.

It's a nice kind of busy, and  am taking pics and talking and RELAXING.

More of Brickworld Friday

So I had a presentation on BrickJournal. and it went really well.

I got some questions about what is going to happen, and well, the magazine is still going, and I need to start a mailing list - so drop me your name and e-mail!

Also, there was a lot of fun stuff going down,,,and pics will be coming.

Brickworld Friday

Got in too late to drop any notes - will do later today hopefully.

Very busy day, very fun day.

One really cool thing happening is the time-lapse of the event being done - we'll have a time-lapse of the entire event by Sunday!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Brickworld wrapup: Thursday

It's 2 am now, and Brickworld is warmingup...

Was at the main room until 1 am chatting with almost everyone, including Michael Huffman, Felix Greco, Janey Red Brick, Chris Magno, William Hutchinson, and many others.

Also presented my event kit, the Brickworld micro train.

And built one art of the Cafe Corner multifloor set - and also put out some of my mdels .

The room filled with people with models and also other people curious to see what was happening.

And I was able to chat with someof the LEGO staff!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brickworld Thursday Afternoon -

So I have been busy as I usually am -

went with Abner Finley and Mike Harrod to O'Hare Airport to pick up Fradel Gonzales and Magnus Lauglo - and almsot got stuck at a toll booth because we didn't have enough change....

Came back and met Steve Witt, Richard Stollery, and Jan Beyer and ate with them for lunch...talked about some BrickJournal stuff!

And it's not even 4 pm yet!

I'm at Brickworld!!!

and it's kinda empty.

Nothing is happening yet, as setup begins tonight, but people are starting to meet and gather...this is one of the fun parts of a convention - catching up with everyone.

The ballroom is ready for people, and it looks really BIG. But it won't be - it'll fill up with models and builders....

Already met Simon Kent from the LEGO Group - he's a designer from the Creator group, and he's looks like a young skater dude. Really.

Also met the coordinators and Abner Finley, Mike Harrod, John Brost, and others. I drove up with Tommy Armstrong from North Carolina and took 14 hours straight to get to Chicago.

More coming, including pics!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Really important things....

I had the privilege to a really neat person Monday.

His name is Marvin Hall, and he's a person attending Stanford.

What makes him so special?

He teaches MINDSTORMS to inner-city children in Jamaica.

Marvin is a person that has the Jamaican accent and dialect, and on the phone, he comes across as a really laid-back guy. But he's driven by a passion to give to his community.

In the past 5 years, he has taught at a school, then left to pursue his mission to bring robotics to Jamaica...and he has used his own resources to buy MINDSTORMS sets and teach.

People in Jamaica have noticed...and have given him funding to take kids to FIRST LEGO League tournaments in the US. And while things can get tight for him, things work out.

He doesn't back down from a challenge to his dream, and it's inspirational to talk to him. And BrickJournal will have a story on him - because one of BrickJournal's missions is to show people the power of the LEGO hobby.

For Marvin, it can change lives.


Yes, the website is presently a joke. And it has been that way for a while.

You see, I have been trying to think of what I really want for the site - I have the domain and just have to figure what I want. And now things have gotten more interesting for me.

I have been working on an event calendar (that needs updating right now, but I have been so busy that I haven't been able to work on it like I would like) on a web service called Near-Time. They have been a good service, and I used them for planning BrickFest 2006 - it was a really neat service that allowed everyone to share files and have a webspace where messages could be tracked relatively easily.

They have been paying attention to me since then, and have offered to help set things up and get a website..and they are serious enough to offer design services and drop a fee to get the site launched.

So the thing is that I can get a professional website done, which is a nice possibility!

I get to talk to the developers the week after Brickworld...and then we'll see what happens.

Getting ready for Brickworld....

Yes, I have a lot left to do, and I am up to my ears in stuff, but I am more than a little excited about going.

I'm starting to get e-mails and phone calls from people that I will be meeting - it's pretty exciting and nice to that happen:-)

What's really cool is that the European Bureau Chief for the Journal will at the con, so we can do a Editor's summit - otherwise known as rounding up BrickJournal Staff and planning what will be in the mag for the next year!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Eric Brok...

I was informed of his passing earlier this week, and am greatly saddened.

I also met him a couple of years ago at BrickFest - he was one of the first to offer support - even before BrickJournal was named! And from there, he has written articles including his last one.

He wrote an article in the Journal in Issue 6 and mentioned his illness. I hoped that he would be able to see his set produced, and he did. And I got a review set and was able to build and see what he did. I sent him a note about how nice the set is, not expecting an answer. I knew that his health had declined, so it wasn't important to get a reply. It was important to tell him. Surprisingly, he replied with a thank you note. It was about a month ago.

He will be missed and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family.

And I thank him for all the things he has done for the community and the hobby.

BrickJournal 8 is out!

You can get it here.

It's a 120 page book this time. Could have been much more, but I had to push articles to the next issue.

There's been a lot that has happened with this issue. There's a lot of people to thank, including the budding layout staff.

It shouldn't be a secret that BrickJournal is working toward print - in fact everyone who reads this is well aware of it. Things have been falling into place slowly, and some final pieces are coming into play. The last hurdle is funding, and the wheels are starting to turn on that.

Having BrickJournal switch from a community (volunteer) magazine to one that generates revenue has been heavy on  my mind since day one of this wild adventure. There are those in the community who firmly beleive that the community deserves  everything for nothing.  And they constantly create noise on things  when they involve money. They believe that money equals control, so if they pay in, they expect to have a voice in how things are done.

I tend to believe the opposite. No one deserves a handout. We all earn our keep. That means we have to work to reach our goals and be ready to sacrifice if need be. BrickJournal is a great example of what can happen when people work together to a common goal. And yes, I am concerned about the possible consequences of going to print.

But I am also excited. BrickJournal will be able to do so much more once it becomes a printed publication - I hope that it will be a start to many other things for the community. And I hope to make something that benefits all of us, from the staff to the readers.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lost licenses - a minor rant.

So I go to a large toy store, and I start to see the summer toys that are being released - and my eye wanders to some of the clone sets.

While some of the clones are pretty bad in terms of production value (Best-Lock, for one) and others are just odd (K'nex?), I do have a weak spot for looking at Mega-Bloks stuff. Not because I would buy them (I have bought a couple of sets that pretty much proved what we already know - Mega-Bloks isn't all that great), but they have sets that I really wish LEGO would sell.

Of course, if LEGO did sell them, much of their values would go down the proverbial toilet, as the sets I pine for have some kind of violent overtone - military sets, most of the time.

But the sets that caught my attention have to do with the movies out this summer. MB has sets for Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. What's interesting is that LEGO had the rights to Spider-Man (and honestly, those sets were so-so) and rights to Disney before then. So LEGO had opportunities.

To be fair, LEGO's sets for Spider-Man and Spidey 2 were nice support for  the movie, but the sets were somewhat lacking. I think that the problem that LEGO had and now MB has is that these were marketed as 'playsets' not building sets. And that simple denial of the actual toy's purpose pretty much destroyed the real possibilities of the sets. LEGO got out of Spider-Man because of low sales,  and this is possibly one of the reasons behind the low sales - kids were not  shown the possibility  of what a set could do , but how it fit the Spider-Man universe. It's a limiting of the imagination.

The MB Spiderman sets don't do anything for me - in fact they kinda suck. Spiderman Mecha sets? Who thought of THAT? And why do they all look the same?? And why doesn't Spider-Man's mech look like a, um SPIDER???

Okay, so I got that out of my system.

About the Pirates sets...I actually am saddened that I cannot bring myself to buy these sets.  But they are MB, so that makes things clear.  No buy, but look.  And I see some neat things. 

The sad things is that three movies, with possibly more down the pike, have been made, and with each release, there was an opp to release a Pirate set from LEGO. Argh! I would have bought them!! (Pirate DUPLO does not count)

But MB did sets, and they were kinda neat, but again nothing worth buying. Things got a little more complicated this year - the MB Pirates: At World's End sets are a good example of great ideas---BAD followthrough.

The minifigs they have for the characters are nice, but overdetailed to me - my LEGO bias shows itself on that:-) But Davy Jones looks cool, simply put.

Now the sets - they have a big assortment - including 2 minifig packs for 3 bucks - definitely worth considering if you want them. There's also a lot of price points to choose from too, but some of the sets are kinda odd - especially the smaller ones - they have FEW pieces and minifigs.

There are three sets that caught my eye, and each for different reasons:

1. Kraken set - this is the first item that has any rendition ANYWHERE of the Kraken from Dead Man's Chest - which really has my attention. It's built in typical MB fashion - no real parts, just a body and then attach tentacles - bleah! But a Bionicle take on this would be really cool!! And this set really needs a ship to fight the Kraken - you get a...pier? The Kraken couldn't even getthat close to land!! But it was such a cool idea - but no followthrough....

2. Flagship Battler set - ship sets that shoot and can shoot each other! Better yet, the two guns feed from one ammo 'clip' - the main mast. They shoot ping-pong balls and can shoot targets on the other ship to battle. Thats a really cool idea, but he models are only a couple dozen parts....no real building.

3. Collector's Set (TRU exclusive) - this is a three pack with a set from each movie. The set from Dead Man's Chest is pretty dull (a cannibal set), and so is the set from At World's End (a very small Singapore set). But the set for Curse of the Black Pearl is the treasure room and it has...loose treasure - cool! And it has BOTH Jack Sparrow and Barbossa in half skeleton mode - MAJOR cool! But the rest sucks....

I should point out that MB had the Star Trek: Next Generation Enterprise, and I never bought that set either - and I'm a major Trekker!! But LEGO is more important:-)

So I wouldn't buy any of this, but I can pretty bummed out with the "what ifs?" that could have happened if LEGO still had at least the Disney license...

I gotta tell y'all about a clone that has rights to the Disney parks in Japan and has done some really cool ride vignettes you can get in Japan.....next time!!

LEGO and Indiana Jones?

That's a strong rumor. Makes sense too.

This can be WAY cool - especially if the license extends to all the Indy movies - I would die to get the flying wing from Raiders of teh Lost Ark:

that would be really sweet!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Certified Professional stuff...

Nathan Sawaya's display, The Art of the Brick, is traveling! If you didn't see it in Pennsylvania, you can see it in Illinois in June and Connecticut next year! You can get more info here.

Sean Kenney was commissioned to  build a mosaic for Google, and you can see it here.
He's also going to be in a gallery presenting a bust of...William Shatner. Really. You an read that here.

In Canada, the guys at Brickville Designworks are at Saskatchewan Science Centre with an Egyptian themed display, LEGO: Secrets of the Pharaohs. There's some info here.

Dan Perker will be doing a LEGO Camp for kids (kindergarden through 3rd grade at Seabury School), Tacoma Washington in mid-July. There's info here.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Didier went to the Idea House!!

He's one lucky person!

You can see pics over here.

I got to see it in December (and have pics too that I need to post) of the museum in progress. It's neat (and an honor) to see BrickJournal as a museum artifact:-)!

Kelly McKiernan's presentation about the Ambassadors is also online:
here (low-res) or here (high-res)

The presentation was seen at BrickFest 2006 and ispretty good - it's a light-hearted look at what the Ambassadors do.

BrickJournal Website Objectives

So in working out what should be happeningwith BrickJournal, the media group, some thoughts have come to mind:

The Media Group will have different areas that will touch upon the hobby and the community. Each area will take advantage of the strengths of the medium - and be able to provide information leads to the other branches of the group.

There are three branches determined so far:

Printed Media
- BrickJournal the magazine and other publications. The mission of BrickJournal is to document and promote the LEGO building community and hobby with articles and photography. BrickJournal is also an avenue for interested people to find out about some of the things that happen behind the scenes with the LEGO Group. In time, BrickJournal will release books that have themed compilations of articles, such as space articles, or instructions.

Digital Media - With BrickJournal the website, there will be a platform to promote the community at a different level than the magazine - in this case, the website will be more immediate than a publication that comes out quarterly. BrickJournal.com will be able to push coverage on a new set or sets, cover an event (even with video), or post news about the LEGO Group or community. In this way, BrickJournal would be a news service, but its hallmark would be accuracy. BrickJournal wouldn't leak, but we would be first to get the news out!

Another direction being strongly considered is having a video how-to by a Space builder showing how he builds and what he thinks about while building is something I would like to see done. The same could be done with NXT building, or castle building...

Events - This is the most ambitious, and possibly the most rewarding - doing outreach events for community and public.

Footwork for all of these has already begun, but it's going to be a long road. One of the things that needs to be created is a Video Corps of peopl who take footage of events and interviews. That's a tough challenge. But steps are being taken, even if they are baby steps!

I'm not dead yet!


I have been very quiet as of late, but there are a few reasons behind the silence....

I'm getting articles and photos for BrickJournal and startingto put things together - already, there are things thathave been put int layout and already, there are neat surprises I didn't expect!

Also the events that I have gone to have swamped me with pics and now writing I get to do - woo hoo! I get to write four articles, which is a little more than I am used to writing. Wow..

There's also BrickWorld - the event that is hapening in Chicago. I'm doing a little of the planning on this convention and it looks tobe a really neat event. I plan to be there with some models (which is a new one - I haven't built in a while) and with a presentation or two.

I think that I am also a bit winded because of all this - it's not easy keepin up a pace that allows me to get  to report and edit BrickJournal. My staff helps me out, and that is very much appreciated, but it's still an effort.

But guess what! Things may get even bigger! Some nice developments have happened that I can't say just yet (bad luck to presume - best to wait).

The website needs to get worked on, so I will be devoting time to that as BrickJournal 8 gets set up. Those interested in contributing to the website can dro  me a line, as I am looking for videos and links to podcasts.

I'm also starting a new dialogue with the LEGO Group to get more information and sets up on the site and also for the magazine.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dropping a pebble into a pond....

I'm off to go to another event in Atlanta - a Yoda Building event. It's where an 8-foot Yoda model is built by kids over a weekend, and it's pretty fun to watch. I got to see it in Festival of the Masters (Orlando) last year and this year I get to be a volunteer. This will be fun!

I'm also starting to see what is in store for BrickJournal 8, and it looks to be pretty interesting:-) The event reports are coming in, and some reviews are coming in too. Am working on a fun surprise too...

But about the title line - just a little thing that I think about every so often.

What we do and choose to do affects everything around us, like a pebble dropped into a pond. The ripples it sets off make other things happen, and create new ripples...

It's easy to think that what we do isn't that important in the grand scheme of things, but what's surprising is that what we do often is important.

What do I mean? Well, I did a video on FLL that I posted on YouTube a weekago. In that week, FIRST LEGO League sent the video link to all of the teams and volunteers to see, I got comments from teams that were at the World Festival and I got requests to send a high res copy to FLL headquarters and to a team in Oregon that is recruiting sponsors and more teams. The photos I uploaded to Flickr  got the  attention of a person publishing a book in  MIT who asked to use a pic.

All that from posting a video.

Think about this - all great things start with a first step. Or a pebble.

What's your pebble?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another video review from Millionaire Playboy...

Joe Fulton (or Lando da Pimp) sent me a link to his newest video review of teh new Hogwarts Castle coming out.

You can go here to see it.

I really like the format of the review - the time-lapse build is really nice and shows clearly how the sets build.

Air and Space Photos...

can be found here.

Some individual pics are in the gallery here, but many more are on flickr.

Air and Space Display

So Saturday was the day for Explore the Universe Day - and it was a lot of fun. The LEGO display was center stage at the entrance (which was a nice surprise). All the mOCs and models were set up there, and the build area was set awy atthe missle display (to the left, if you entered from the National Mall entrance).

We had a monorail. micro models, NASA models, fantasy ships and even a sneak peek of the upcoming LEGO space sets and even the upcoming Republic Cruiser from the Star Wars collection!

Pictures will be coming once I get them off my camera..I have a few in my flickr account, but more will be coming. Also, go to classic-space.com for some more info!

Friday, April 20, 2007

BrickJournal Photo Archive (sorta)

Didier Enjary brought up an idea for he BrickJournal website: Have all the extra photos  that didn't get published be in the  site.

Ithought about this for a while and decided to us my flickr account for that. Why? Well, it can handle all the traffic the photos would take -  and it woudl be easy to maintain. Also, I can print pics from my flickr galleries.

So start looking over here for some of the pics that didn't get in the mag.

Pictures by other photographers will not be included in the galleries unless permission is given.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

National Air and Space Display

This coming weekend, I will be doing a display with members of WAMALUG at the National Air and Space Museum for Explore the Univers Day. It's a fun gig to do, because a lot of people visit from around the world.

Currently, there will be a small display (four tables) from the group and a build area. The display we have is usually this small because there are quite a few other exhibitors - but they are astronomy clubs and research labs. We do the stuff the kids like:-).

Our group will be seven or so people, and we got space in the gretting area (which is nice) and by the 'missle pit,' or the missle display area.

It's going to be a lot of fun!

Virginia Tech thoughts...

While it's easy to think that bad things happen elsewhere, with a community as large as the LEGO community, there are things that touch us closer than we expect.

I mention this because it took me a day to remember that one of the FLL volunteers I know is from VT. He has been active with having FLL events in BrickFest and has become a good friend. I contacted him, and he and his friends are okay, fortunately.

The incident at Virginia Tech is a tragedy, and I am deeply saddened by it. My thoughts and prayers go to the students, faculty, and staff of Virginia Tech.

More photos?

you bet!

A gallery for the second day of FLL can be found here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flickr Gallery for FLL

You can see all the pics from the first day at FIRST LEGO World Festival here.

Be warned, it's alot of pix, and I have more coming!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

FIRST LEGO League Video

Done with video and photos I took - music from the soundtrack to "Meet the Robinsons"