Geeking Out On Lego

For the love of Lego! The simple and wonderfully designed building blocks have been part of me since I was a young kid. And to this day, I still get my kicks with Lego bricks!


Lego Then

I don’t remember my first Lego set; I wish I did. But I do recall building random vehicles with my mix of basic bricks. I also had a simple house with a door and window pieces.

I enjoyed the classic Legoland Town theme as a kid. Then in my teenage years I turned more to the various Space sub-themes: M-Tron, Blacktron II, Space Police, Ice Planet 2002.

By the time I finished high-school, I had quit owning Lego. But I became a Lego consumer again in 1999 when, to my great surprise, I saw the original Star Wars X-Wing on the shelf at Wal-Mart! I snatched it up on the spot! And I still have it and many of the 1999 Lego Star Wars sets today!

Over the following years, I rarely bought Lego unless a theme really won me over. So being part of the construction industry, I bought several of the bright yellow bricked construction sets, including the awesome tower crane. And loving space and sci-fi, I was captivated by the Mars Mission theme and collected many of those too.

Lego Now

Now that I’m a parent, the thing that’s even more fun and fascinating about Lego is that I get to enjoy the creative construction of plastic pieces with my kids. And having five (5) sons, you can imagine we have a lot of Lego!1

And yes. You know I’ve accidentally stepped on my share of bricks bare foot. Ouch!


Design and Construction

Lego is such a part of my life that I’ve included Lego design in my professional portfolio as a Structural Designer.

To showcase my 3D modeling skills in a unique way, I used the Lego Digital Designer program years ago to re-create a steel structure that was designed at an architectural company I worked for. I put an image of it in my portfolio next to a photo of the real thing for comparison.

Having been influenced and inspired by Lego while growing up, and now being a Structural Designer, I still love building Lego and noticing how it has changed over the years.

Cheater Pieces

To me, classic Lego was the simple studs-on-top bricks and plates. Back in the day, Lego pieces were most often cubes, plates, and extruded straight-line geometric objects. There were a few angled shapes in the mix too for the occasional slope. There were some exotic pieces and accessories, but largely you had to build up the shapes you wanted.

The modern Lego of the past decade or so has introduced many new types of sets and themes with many more special bricks, unique pieces, and eccentric shapes! In fact, even though I love Lego, I call a lot of these new types of blocks Cheater Pieces.

Instead of building a blocky resemblance of the surface curves of the hood of a car, for example, you now can just use curved hood pieces. Easy! And they look very nice. But their use is somewhat specialized or limited since they lack the traditional studs-on-top. The result is like: traditional bricks for the underlying (interior) structure and modern bricks for the finishing surface skin (exterior).

You could say there’s more complexity yet flexibility in the Lego system. Whether good or bad, one thing is sure: with so many types of Lego bricks today, the creative possibilities are exceedingly vast!

But even amongst all that, one modern Lego theme retains the basic brick design of classic Lego. In fact, this theme is a paragon of classic Lego because the bricks are literal interpretations of blocks! Of course, I’m talking about Minecraft. It turns out, Minecraft blocks make for perfect Lego bricks, and vice versa!


Lego Elves

The simplicity of Minecraft Lego can be juxtaposed with the uniquely detailed and fantasy colored pieces of the Elves theme. It’s focused on female Lego lovers with its pastel pinks and purples, along with its more doll-like figurines that are a departure from the classic Lego mini-figs, which are smaller and more blocky.

My wife expressed interest one day in a small town-like set in the Elves theme; I noticed it included a green dragon. Later I learned there were several bigger dragons of different color and style, you know, to collect.

I decided they looked so cool that I’d buy my wife the sets with the dragons; they were just too cool! In the end, we ended up buying every single set in the first year of Lego Elves!

Architecture

I don’t buy and build Lego often for myself; I leave most of that to my kids. But sometimes there’s a set that is a must-buy.

Growing up with an amateur-ish affinity for architecture, and being a structural designer, I love the realistic special theme of Lego Architecture. So of course I bought the Eiffel Tower! It’s the quintessential steel structure.

Real Space Lego

And speaking of towering icons, in 2017, Lego released their official version of Lego Ideas #17, the NASA APOLLO SATURN V. And it’s over 3 feet tall!!

Most Lego sets are on the market for a season or two until the next wave or theme replaces them. Afterwards, the previous sets are hard to find and cost much more than at retail. So if you don’t grab a set when it’s new, you likely will never see it again.

Yet somehow, after being released 2 years ago, the Saturn V rocket is still available for purchase from Amazon, and for a set its size2, it should cost far more than it does.

For two years, I resisted. For two years and with many good opportunities, I said, “No” to the huge mammoth Saturn V set. I don’t need it. I probably should not buy it. I’ll be disciplined, principled…

I finally bought the Lego Saturn V!

And you know what? This set is AWESOME!

I’m thrilled to have it and am savoring every moment with my kids as we study the thick instruction book, the BIG box, and assemble this masterful monument to mankind’s most massive moon missions ever!

Buying the Saturn V was triggered by my recent Father’s Day gift, which came as a total surprise. My sons helped to give me a new Lego set I did not know existed! It’s the NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander!


The Age of Lego

Let me point out a little something. Did you notice on the boxes of the last three images where they indicate the suggested age level of the Lego set? They said, “12+, 14+, and 16+.”

I’m in the “+” age group. I still qualify to love, buy, and build Lego!


Lego+

Yes, I love Lego. I display my Lego sets at my current office. And I, at age 41, have a few select Lego keychains dangling from the zipper pulls of my back-pack that I wear to and from work every day.

If I could, I’d love to be a Lego Designer, utilizing my CAD and 3D modeling skills and my love of interlocking blocks to help create new sets, themes, box art, and instruction booklets. It’s constructive, creative, and cool.

Of course, I’d be over the moon to put my technical and design skills to use at NASA, SpaceX, or Apple. Who wouldn’t? But Lego…I’d love to work at Lego. Would it even be work?

Lego inspired me to play and build as a kid. Lego still inspires me today. And I love that my sons and I can enjoy Lego as a family. We’ve watched all the recent Lego movies together. I’ve also had the privilege and pleasure to take them to a Legoland Discovery Center! I think we’ll continue to discover more to love about Lego over time.

Long live Lego!


Do you love Lego? Speak up below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. I’m still not sure if the plural form of Lego is, “Lego” or “Legos.”
  2. Retail sets typically average $0.10 per brick.

Shaker Spiral Stairs

Ten years ago, I vacationed to Kentucky for a friend’s wedding. Naturally, I visited nearby points of interest. My wife and I stayed at this beautiful place called Shaker Village.


The village is unique and relaxing. The buildings, the architecture, it’s all custom crafted. The place has so much charm and is simply marvelous.

You can learn more about Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill with this link to the website.

The Twitter profile also has photos and info you might enjoy.


My camera was put to good use at this wonderful site seeing stop. In the photo, the view is looking up through the wooden spiral staircase at the Inn. If I recall correctly, it was handmade!

You’ll also find the photo in my Structures Gallery.


Shaker Village is totally worth a visit, and I hope to someday return and refresh my soul again at this wonderful and relaxing oasis.


What place do you like to relax at? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

Water Tower Sunset

The joy of photography for me happens when the wonder of creation surprises me, like a kid still discovering nature for the first time. Some of my favorite photos are ones that turn out better than expected. That happened in this picture I took of a water tower.


My family had been hiking Abilene State Park one day several years ago, and we were headed down a trail from Buffalo Wallow. This path took us by the small water tower.

I looked up, noticing the many birds gathering on the tower’s steel bracing. The sight of them really caught my eye. My camera was hanging from its black strap around my neck1, so I lifted it up, composed the image, and snapped away.

My aim was to put the tower off center and at an interesting angle; it’s structure, as I recall, was more of my focus after the birds. The tower’s dark silhouette against the setting sun was kinda nice. Otherwise, it’s just plain old white in full sun.

It was during the edit phase that this photo became one of my favorites. I remember tweaking it in Lightroom. I like vivid color, so as I sought to bring out the sky more – it was washed out looking – I saw colors that I had no idea were in the sunset!

It was truly surprising. I was able to bring out more color than I imagined. It was the last thing on my mind when making the picture in the field. I went for the birds, then the tower. But the colorful sky, with its beautiful gradient, is what won me over here.


This is one reason I like photography. The ability to see, discover, and capture the wonder of creation. There’s glory exhibited around us, if only we take the time to stop and behold. And sometimes it will surprise you like a young child. Don’t lose your sense of wonder!

What do you like about this photo? How would you do it differently? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. This was before everyone’s camera was always in their pocket!

A Conical Dome Of Glass

The story of this picture I took is simple. While trekking around the concrete and steel jungle of Singapore, snapping my camera at a myriad of sites, this one stood out amongst them. You can’t not look up at this thing when standing under it.

The tower of glass and steel angles form this cool lattice structure in the shape of a cone. If you want to find it on Google Street view, here it is. It’s at the Wheelock Place.

I’m sure there have been many photos of this pointy thing. Add mine to the list!

I placed the centerpoint off center on purpose because I felt it made the picture more dramatic. I wasn’t going for the symmetry because it didn’t look right; there was too much barrel distortion from my point-n-shoot zoom lens. Or maybe the escalator was in the way.

It’s black and white since the monochromatic contrast shows the structure better. I tend to think this applies to most photos I take of buildings or structures by themselves. So color versions of architecture are more appealing to me when they include background to set the scene. For example, red brick in the foreground juxtaposed with blue sky around it.

Also note my image has a dark to light radial gradient going on; I was aiming for a 3D depth effect.

Anyways, hope you enjoy the photo!

You can also find more of my structure shots in my Gallery here.


If you could take a picture of any single thing on Earth, what would it be? Comment below or write to me! Thanks for reading.