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The Unapologetic Geek

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The Six Stages of LEGO® Lunacy - Page 2


I touched every single piece at least once

You quickly discover that the biggest obstacle to setting a plan in motion is finding the right pieces. If you spent decades in the first stage--as I did--and have assembled a stockpile that would keep Smaug happy, every single piece is a needle in a haystack. Once your ambitions reach a certain level, this is an unacceptable reality, and so you will have to make a momentous decision: abandon the project, or organize the Legos.

Coincidentally, my wife likes to buy containers and organizers, and I like to buy lots of little Ziploc® containers for our leftovers. I grabbed as many of these as I could and got to work. I've made it sound like this was my idea, but it was actually my wife's. She wanted me to get one small container and put a few dozen big blocks in it for Tommy (I'm assuming she was hoping I would put the rest of them back in the dusty closet from whence they came), so that he wouldn't play with the tiny pieces or make giant messes that inevitably lead to arguments over who's going to clean them up. Little did she know how thoroughly this would activate my normally dormant left brain, leading to an epic sorting session over the next few days, in which I turned one giant stash into roughly fifteen smaller stashes.

The level of organization is limited only by the level of your insanity. You may just want to separate the big pieces from the small, but then you'll have to come up with a good dividing line. Then it might occur to you to separate out all the wheels, all the round pieces, all the weird mechanical pieces, all the hinged pieces, all the awkward pieces, all the translucent pieces, all the decorative pieces, all the flat pieces, etc., etc. If you take it to the absolute extreme, you could in theory have a small pile for every size, shape, and color of LEGO® in your collection, but thankfully, I'm not that mad.



I don't imagine it's possible to make it through the fourth stage and not enter the fifth, because think about where you are. You have accumulated an enormous hoard of Legos; you have tinkered enough to be adept at building things with them; you have had creative ideas that are begging to be improved upon; and you now have your pieces organized so that they are easily accessible. How could you not go forward?

You see that pinball machine in the picture? That's a fourth iteration. Take a good look at it, or better yet, watch this video of it in action. A normal person will look at that, think, "Wow, that's impressive," and move on. That's what nearly all of my Facebook friends have done. But do you know what I see when I look at that? I see sticky flippers, a launching mechanism that is too close to one of the flipper buttons, spots where the pinball either never goes or occasionally gets stuck, a pinball catching basket that is much too small, and several other flaws too nitpicky to mention. I see these flaws, and it takes all my energy not to be back at my workdesk right now, fiddling and tinkering to create a new and improved Version 5. The worst part is that I know, even if I fix every single flaw I see now, I will find more room for improvement in the next iteration.

Assuming a nearly infinite supply of Legos, if I continue on this course, by this time next year I will have a full-sized, coin-operated, electronic pinball machine cabinet with a scoreboard, a glass cover, standing legs that go all the way to the floor, secondary flippers, multiball launchers, and more, all made entirely out of Lego bricks. This is how it happens. This is where those ludicrous Lego creations come from. This is the lunacy.


If your LEGO® peeps start worshipping you, you might want to pencil in some quality time with a psychiatrist

Imagine now, just for a moment, how far this can go. There is nothing you can't build without the proper building blocks. I bet the guy who built that SUV out of Legos looks at it and thinks, "Next time, I'm gonna make one that I can actually drive to work." It's not so crazy. Check out this video of a working engine built out of Legos. You could build your home out of Legos, as Top Gear's James May is only too happy to demonstrate. You could build a whole town out of Legos. You could build an entire world out of Legos; just look at Minecraft.

This raises a simple question. Who else has taken basic building blocks and built something enormous full of variety, complexity, and a seemingly infinite diversity of ambitious projects and ideas? That's right: God. Nobody illustrates LEGO® Lunacy like that guy. Give him a week and he'll create the entire universe and still have a day left over to sleep it off. Man, if I'm going to get that good, I'd better go buy some more Legos.

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-e. magill 8/6/2013

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