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 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 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.