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Tag Archives: lego

This February was pretty calm. While there was snow, winter hasn’t really been that bad (there were a lot of defrosting breaks). I didn’t have work travel again this month, but we did end up going on a short road trip to Kingston for one night.

I started getting pretty deep into Lego Legacy Heroes. That’s my primary game now. I started playing in November, during beta/soft launch, and the global launch happened at the end of Feb, so I am pretty far ahead (one reason to keep playing). I didn’t really play Hearthstone this month (although there were a lot of Battleground changes), not even keeping up with quests. Disney Heroes I am kind of on the fence on. It is a bit of a chore on most days (and difficult to make progress), but sometimes it is nice to have a lot of things to do and click. The kids continued being deep into LEGO this month, maybe not as crazy as January, but they’re still building new sets and creations.

The big news story this month was Coronavirus. It is truly an interesting time because this is a global event, where every country is on the same side. This might be the first time in history that this is happening! While still contained, there are signs at the end of this month that a pandemic is about to happen.

  • At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction
    A lot of restaurants now use ingredients that are “locally sourced” or “from the farm”, but how true is that really? You usually just trust whatever is on the menu, but this food critic actually followed through and did some investigating. Not surprisingly, a lot of places lie.

    Dorsey said he buys pork from a small Tallahassee farm through food supplier Master Purveyors. But Master Purveyors said it doesn’t sell pork from Tallahassee. Dorsey said he uses quail from Magnolia Farms in Lake City. Master Purveyors said the quail is from Wyoming. Dorsey said he buys dairy from Dakin Dairy Farms in Myakka through Weyand Food Distributors. Weyand said it doesn’t distribute Dakin. Dorsey said he gets local produce from Suncoast Food Alliance and Local Roots. Both said they have not sold to The Mill. He named three seafood suppliers. Two checked out, but a third, Whitney and Son, said they had not sold to The Mill yet. They hope to in the future.

  • The Weird Economics Of Ikea
    This article talks about how Ikea handles its pricing for some of its most popular items, including two that I had around when I was a child – the lack table and the poang which I used as “computer chair” since it was more comfortable than a swivel chair.

    Indeed, the products have evolved. In 1992, part of the Poäng was changed from steel to wood, allowing the chair to ship more densely and efficiently in the company’s flat packs. (“Shipping air is very expensive,” Marston said.) And the Lack table was changed from solid wood to a honeycomb “board on frame” construction, decreasing production costs and increasing shipping efficiency. Baxter theorizes, though, that if a product is finicky — requiring design in Sweden, manufacture in China and intricate pieces from Switzerland, say — it may eventually be abandoned.

  • ‘I thought I was smarter than almost everybody’: my double life as a KGB agent
    A real life story from a former KGB spy where he discusses a bit about his training to become a spy. There are also some bits about being undercover, but frankly, that is pretty boring!

    Barsky, as he now was, moved to New York, carrying his new birth certificate. With that, he got a membership card at the Natural History Museum. And, with that, he got a library card and then a driver’s licence. He covered his hands and face with grime and did not wash for days before applying for a social security card; he had always worked as a farmhand, he told them, and never needed one. It worked.

  • ‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death
    This is a long article that serves as proof that various agencies within the UK have thought about and planned for the Queen’s inevitable death. Like much of the monarchy, this future event will be micromanaged to handle the press and reaction.

    The first plans for London Bridge date back to the 1960s, before being refined in detail at the turn of the century. Since then, there have been meetings two or three times a year for the various actors involved (around a dozen government departments, the police, army, broadcasters and the Royal Parks) in Church House, Westminster, the Palace, or elsewhere in Whitehall. Participants described them to me as deeply civil and methodical. “Everyone around the world is looking to us to do this again perfectly,” said one, “and we will.” Plans are updated and old versions are destroyed. Arcane and highly specific knowledge is shared. It takes 28 minutes at a slow march from the doors of St James’s to the entrance of Westminster Hall. The coffin must have a false lid, to hold the crown jewels, with a rim at least three inches high.

  • How Lego Became The Apple Of Toys
    This article raises the parallel that Lego is the Apple of toys because they are looking for innovative ways to get their products in the hands of children. I don’t really buy it though, particular because their goal is “that Lego continue to create innovative play experiences and reach more children every year”. Except then they go to great lengths to talk about how their products are appealing to adults.

    Eight years ago, a Chicago architect named Adam Reed Tucker, who had been building impressive Lego models of iconic buildings, reached out to Lego, suggesting that the company might be interested in making official kits similar to his homemade creations. “Doing anything that wasn’t for the target group, which was boys between, say, 5 and 11, used to be almost a complete no-go,” says David Gram, Future Lab’s head of marketing and business development. But a free-thinking Norwegian Lego exec named Paal Smith-Meyer—Holm admiringly describes him as “a true rebel”—saw value in AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) and came up with a stealthy, shoestring plan to prove their worth to the company. It came in the form of a counteroffer—which would help usher in the current era of innovation at Lego.

Apollo is 4 years old now so we’ve started him on normal LEGO. In the past he has played with the baby LEGO (i.e., Duplo) and we’ve bought a couple of sets of that for him. Now that he’s on to normal-sized LEGO, I’ve looked at the sets to buy and am back at the position of wondering why LEGO has so many themed sets.

Now this isn’t a surprise – they’ve been like this for a long time. I just haven’t cared so it wasn’t on my mind. I guess it is better now that they sell “creative” sets which are just bricks of various colours that you can use to build whatever you want, but the majority of the Lego products will still build something specific without a lot of re-use for building other things.

What has dawned on me is that LEGO has positioned itself as the layman’s model building. I remember when I was younger, you could buy model kits to carefully build your own car. Then you apply the stickers and/or paint and you would have a replica of some real world (expensive) item. LEGO makes this super simple by having pre-built pieces that fit together easily, without a risk that you would screw up the entire model if you didn’t put a part on correctly. Once it is built, you can put it on your mantle to display or to marvel at it – you’re not supposed to take it apart and rebuild it.

In a way, it’s also become a lot like a puzzle. You follow the instructions to build something complicated. I suppose you could take it apart, store it, and rebuild it just like a puzzle. But from my perspective, and possibly my kid’s, it’s no fun to build something and then look at it forever. Creative kits are fun, but building models just isn’t that interesting.

When I get lazy with blogging, I just post links to some neat stuff around the web:

Legoland was the fourth, and last theme park we visited on our trip; and I use the term visited lightly. The admission was another $60+ and although I’m a geeky fan of Lego, I don’t see how it would be worth the price of admission since we already saw animals, fairy tales and movie themed parks. We take the $10 parking hit, take some pictures and visit the gift shop without paying admission; but there was no gift shop outside and the gate was rather lame. Although on the way in, near the entrance, we saw a section of sponsored parking for Volvos (there is a Volvo-themed ride in Legoland)!

But lucky for us, we found out that we could get a 1-hour Shopper’s Pass and enter the park for free. We visited the gift shop, bought some overpriced Lego (but hey, we got our parking validated) and then dashed around the park for the rest of the hour. We spent a lot of time in Miniland USA which are reproductions of various cities and sites around the US in the style of Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village (but done in Lego).

Our quick visit was a interesting teaser for the park, it almost seems like it would be worth spending a few hours there; but maybe if the admission was only $20.

Almost as common as vending machines are those machines that dole out little plastic balls. We have them in Canada too, and typically the balls open to give a Winnie the Poo key chain or a cell phone straps. In Japan, there is more variety and better machines for otaku to spend their loose change on; I was tempted to buy a lot but Pauline made me buy drinks with the change instead.

I did spend ¥300 on one, in a toy store, when Pauline wasn’t looking, and that was a ¥300 well spent! I don’t know where my character is from, but it’s designed really well – the legs connectors are different shape so you don’t have a mutant figurine! The best thing about it, even though it wasn’t even $3CDN, is that it’s very detailed. Here’s a better picture:

I also picked up a lego case of Coke, although this wasn’t from a vending machine. We were in the corner store looking for a drink and they were clearing out this “special” serving of Coke. For the same price as a 500ml bottle, we received this lego set and a 300ml bottle of Coke!