Archive for the ‘Lego’ Category

Good evening!

Last post I did, I started my little series of recognizing the folks who have really inspired me to make some life changes. These aren’t exactly folks who have supported me… in many cases, they don’t even know I found their stories or journeys to be inspiring. Now it’s my chance to throw them some recognition.

Today’s honoree is Glenn, also known as Vegan Wayne (long story).

Glenn was a pretty big guy… also a member of the Disney community, I met him through the fine folks at WDW Today. I’ve always told him he’s my favorite Hawaiian attorney (He’s the only Hawaiian attorney I know, so of course he’s my favorite, but don’t tell him that… it’ll spoil the gravitas that goes along with that honor) I say Glenn was a pretty big guy because he’s no longer that big. Some of my fondest memories of Glenn involved chowing down at the Ohana feast , so imagine my surprise when he told me he was going to a vegan, whole foods diet.

I was stunned.

Flabbergasted.

The voice running through my head was that of the aunt in My Big Fat Greek Wedding saying, “Whaddaya mean you don’t eat no meat?”

Of course he took some ribbing about that major dietary change, including when we all went to Ohana and he had  them bring out the vegan platter while the rest of us did our best barbarian impression, eating meat cooked with fire. The gauntlet was thrown, as well, with our friend Jeanine making a snarky remark about “those four months you went vegan”. To Glenn’s credit, he’s stuck with it and has lost well over 100 pounds.

The road isn’t always smooth, but if you stick with it, you can succeed.

photo (8)My current project of a minifig display rack is moving along. I finished cutting the wood for the outer frame. I even used the router table to cut shelf guides. The first attempt wasn’t too successful… I did each side individually and the alignment was WAAAAAY off. So, I had to buy another piece of wood and start over. I managed to rig some scrap wood into a jig, which kept everything nice and aligned. The shelves are going to made from 1/4 inch oak plywood, since there’s no real weight to the figures. I’m going to make the basic design in a cross-hatched pattern so there’s some support to keep the shelves from sagging under their own weight.

So, that’s what’s been going on. The router table has proven to be a most excellent acquisition, so I’m pleased about that.

Oh, one tip… if you’re outside getting exercise on these hot days, remember to hydrate to the best of your ability. You don’t want to get dehydrated, so avoid caffeine and sodas. Instead, stick to water and sports drinks. My sports drink of choice is PowerAde Zero in the orange flavor. Seriously yummy stuff.

More soon.

Song of the Day: Running on Empty – Jackson Browne

I am pleased to announce that I haven’t fallen off a treadmill in four days.

That’s not for lack of trying.

snap0082I should clarify and say that I am not, repeat NOT, actively trying to fall off a treadmill. It’s just that my legs have been awfully rubbery of late, so stepping off the treadmill can be an iffy proposition. The funny thing as that while my hip/posterior was where I thought I’d get a bruise, I actually did more damage to my arm.

It’s a good thing, though… if my legs feel rubbery, that means it was a decent workout. Plus, the more I get my work in, the less time the legs stay rubbery. One thing I do know for sure is that the Balega socks are wonderful. They feel good when you put them on, there’s no seam to rub against your toes, and your feet are wonderfully dry when you’re done. I’m in the process of converting to a mostly moisture-wicking sock collection and selling the old cotton socks at the next edition of The Dreaded Yard Sale®. I figure I can get a quarter a pair… after all, most have hardly been worn, and it’s all for charity!

I also am going to pick up a pair of Balegas for Supportive Partner Woman (She of the ouchy back!). While her feet are nowhere near as bad as mine, she would probably benefit from a nice, comfortable pair of socks.

photo (7)In other news, the Lego 10240 X-Wing is complete. It’s sizeable, especially when compared to the standard X-Wing that was released in 2012. The downside is that the new one is not scaled for minifigs… but I’m keeping Porkins, because, well, he’s Porkins. I’ll probably sell the other one… limited display space is a bad thing. This is why I never bought the Super Star Destroyer.

At any rate, that’s about all I have for today. Tomorrow and Friday bring sessions with the boys and hopefully my arm will continue to feel better. Oh, and I plan on continuing my streak of not falling off of treadmills or other objects.

Song of the Day: In Too Deep – Sum 41

The lowlight of the weekend was getting the inevitable e-mail from AirTran saying that our flights had changed. I booked out of Reagan National in order to save a few bucks and because the times were perfect. Flights were nonstop and avoided the ninth circle of Hell that is Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Nothing against Atlanta, it’s probably a great city. I’d just never want to fly there because I’m sure my luggage would take a nice, scenic detour through the Kamchatka Peninsula on its way to Hotlanta.

So, the email stated that our new departing flight left DCA at 6:01 AM, then we had to change planes AND airlines in Atlanta on the way to MCO, getting in around 11:30 AM. That doubled the length of travel time, which was less than optimal. Same deal on the return flight… obligatory stop in Atlanta, leaving two hours earlier than desired, etc.

I cooled off for a day (otherwise Ensign Furious might’ve sailed up aboard his garbage scow and that’s never pretty) and opted to call them this morning. What a circus.

First of all, the menu. The Voice gives you precious few options, one of which is NOT “Speak to a live actual person”. God help you if you opt to press 0, because the Voice gets a bit testy almost snarling “Invalid Command!” and then restarting the menu as if to say, “Now, where was I before you interrupted me, you ignorant jackass?”

Eventually, if you say or press nothing, you get a real, live person. Maybe The Voice does not like to be ignored. Whatever the reason, I got a guy who was reasonably helpful. After a few minutes of phone wrangling, he was able to get us on a flight out of BWI (much closer to home) that is non-stop and while it leaves a little later than preferred, it beats the trip through Il Purgatorio.

The fun part was when he was surprised when I wanted to change both trips. Why wouldn’t I want to fly out of BWI and into DCA? I could have a car stashed in both places. Seriously? To make a long story short, they changed the flights and didn’t require a change fee. Gotta like that. See, it’s been my experience that when you actually get a live person, they are pretty eager to help.

In the good news department, I didn’t fall off the treadmill today. That’s always a plus. No real damage from Friday’s misadventures other than a sizable bruise. Could’ve been a lot worse.

The Ultimate Collector's Series X-Wing

The Ultimate Collector’s Series X-Wing

Other things accomplished this weekend was replacing the shocks on Mario the Honda. They were pretty well gone and once Jim and I got the new shocks on, well, it rode and handled like a new car. Had to road test it, so we headed off to King of Prussia and the Lego Store. Through a combination of VIP points, a timely 10% coupon and a few other discounts/credits we came home with the new Ultimate Collectors Series X-Wing. It’s shaping up to be a most excellent build. This was followed by a trip to Wegman’s. Saturday night, Supportive Partner Woman and I went to El Serrano for a charity margarita competition in which our favorite bartender, Frank, was a contestant. All told, I had about an ounce or two of real, actual booze for the first time since last year. I’m happy to report that it stayed down. Frank wound up winning and gets to go to Mexico, so kudos to Frank! After that, our friends came over to the Nerd Lair and a good time was had by all.

So, all in all, it’s a positive start to the week. Let’s hope it continues.

Song of the Day: Not the Same – Ben Folds Five

It’s one thing to see numbers on a scale. It’s quite another to realize you fit in pants you haven’t worn since 2010.

Yet that’s what happened yesterday. After visiting my mother on Friday, she remarked on how baggy my jeans were looking, so I decided to try the next size down. I dug into the recesses of my closet and :behold: the 44 jeans actually fit and fit well.

This, my friends, is real progress. The number is just that… a number. Size is not just mass, it’s volume, too, and I am physically smaller.

I am not complaining.

So, other than the smaller pants, how else has weight loss manifested itself since surgery?

1) I can actually close my jacket
2) I can buckle the seatbelt in my car
3) I can fit comfortably in a movie theater seat without having to lift an armrest.

It’s actually really cool.

So, yesterday, I sat here and attempted to write a post. All I could come up with was pretty much crap. So, I figured I’d give it a day and see what emerged. Other than that, I managed to get some stuff done around the house. I got us a new scale and had to install a new toilet seat. I know… exciting stuff! I also finished the latest Lego project… the Palace Cinema. It was a fun build and I was ably assisted by Supportive Partner Woman (becoming an experience Lego builder!) who did most of the roof. Her next project is the Farnsworth House, from the Architecture series. I think I’m going to have to build some display shelves.

521900_10200991424894387_1326894639_nI also managed a visit to the gym. For those of you keeping score, that was four straight days. I’ve been trying to up my time by five minutes every day, at least until I can get some real food in me. I have an exercise appointment tomorrow. so we will see what the boys have planned for me.

At any rate, today’s agenda should include some yard work and cleaning. I’m going to take out the front screens and clean them, since that’s way overdue. I’m still not able to lift, but a little cleaning shouldn’t cause too much of an issue.

Tomorrow’s report will include a preview of pureed food. I know… exciting stuff!

Song of the Day: I Got a Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

Greetings!

Sorry I never got to write yesterday. We got busy with doctors appointments and errands and whatnot. It happens.

I did manage to spend most of the day out yesterday. First off, I had a foot doctor appointment. I managed to keep Stubby in check, but Wayne’s next door neighbor is a little ulcerated. Dr. Miller unroofed it and we’re doing the Betadyne and bandaid treatment until it dries up. This was a regular appointment, so I also got the toenails trimmed and all that.

Afterward, we went to visit Supportive Partner Woman (Practiced good eating habits!)’s mother. Had a nice visit over lunch, well, Mom ate, SPW and I kind of watched and chatted. Afterward, we took the car to the Three Minute Car Wash. This is a Reading, PA institution. You drop your car at the entrance and they clean it inside and outside, and clean it well, all for around $12 without any extras. It”s in a sketchy part of town, but the quality of the cleaning is far superior to some of the other full-service car washes in the area (cough, Cloister, cough) AND it’s less expensive.

Then it was off to the Lego Store at King of Prussia. It’s like Mecca for Lego geeks. We looked around and considered the new Architecture series release, the Imperial Hotel, but opted instead for the Palace Cinema. It’s pretty cool and bears a resemblance to The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I think that’s the real reason we went with it. It was a double points period, which means more VIP points for later. It’s like free money, so you can’t turn it down.

300244_10200969259900276_127030733_n

Some really yummy tomato soup at Wegman’s

After that, we went looking for a place for SPW to grab a bite. I had my trusty pudding and Jell-o in the car, so I was good, but she needed to forage. We swung by Gino’s, which was a big fast food joint in our youth, recently resurrected as an “upscale” burger joint. It smelled fantastic, but SPW was underwhelmed by the menu and we hit the road for Collegeville and Wegman’s (insert choir of angels singing). This is a rather new Wegman’s and it’s in a huge retail complex that features an Eastern Mountain Sports, Best Buy and a Movie Tavern location. This Wegman’s actually has a pub with a sit down menu, and a huge cafe area. SPW managed to located a few tasty items and we found an organic tomato soup that was right up my alley. It was spicy instead of salty and really sit well with the pouch, which I think we will call Joe. I also brought in my pudding cup. Shhh.

It was my first meal out since Red Robin a couple of weeks ago and while it was only soup, it really went down well. I couldn’t finish it all (no surprise) but that’s OK. I have some more of that yumminess for today.

On today’s agenda will be registering for the 5K in January.

Yup… I’m we’re really going to do it. And you’d better believe that when we get those finisher medals, we’re wearing them. Other than that, not sure what’s on the agenda. A walk, for sure.

OH… one other thing that I wanted to share. The last three days, my blood glucose has been at 88. It’s weird, but three days in a row, slightly different times, same number. I guess consistency is key.

Have a great day and get out for a walk!

 

Here we are… end of January and the weather’s been freaky. There’s a surprise. It was ice storm fun on Monday, then it was 60 degrees, then it was biblical rainstorms last night. Go figure.

So, had to order what will hopefully be my last batch of test strips and insulin. Ordered from Caremark (I’m too young to get them from Liberty Medical) and jumped through the hoops, including them arbitrarily canceling the order. So, they send me a tracking number yesterday and, of course, it’s signature required. That would be at the time when Supportive Partner Woman and I aren’t home. So, I arranged to have the package held at the local UPS office. All good. I get a phone message from them after I get home letting me know that my order will be shipped on the next business day. Guess the left and right hands never met.

Other fun in the medical department was my podiatrist appointment on Tuesday. As he’s working on my toes, the dialogue went something like this:

Dr. Miller: “You know, Brian, I don’t think that you’ll ever win any awards for good looking feet.”

Me: <blink>

Stubby the Wonder Toe: “Oh no you di’ent! Imma bust a cap in yo ass!”

I can’t say that I’ve ever been told that before. Sigh. The consequences of diabetic feet.

I’ve continued to be more active, even though the workload has picked up at the office. Looks like I even get to do a little bit of a woodworking project for the boss, building read boards. This should be fun… I haven’t built anything in some time and I’ve kind of missed it.

At any rate, SPW is on her way home so that we’ll actually get to spend some time together while both of us are conscious. Yay!

Hope you all have a great rest of the week.

 

lego-series-9-minifigures-Chicken-Suit-Guy 2

Chicken Man

Pretzel Guy

Pretzel Guy

P.S. I did managed to come up with some cool new Lego minifigs over the last couple of weeks. The coolest one is the guy in the chicken suit. He’s this set’s equivalent of the pretzel guy from Series 8.

 

A Brave New Year

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Holidays, Lego, music

Happy New Year!

Yup… hard to believe it’s already 2013. It seems that it was only a couple years ago that we reached the millennium and I never thought THAT would happen. (For the record, I spent New Year’s Eve 1999 in the basement with a loaded rifle… I fell asleep and woke up about 12:15, saw the power was still on, so unloaded the rifle and went to bed)

It seemed a little strange, though to not have Dick Clark there. I know that he was in bad shape with the stroke and all, but the show is almost as old as I am, and it’s what I remember. The level of “talent” on that show has certainly gone downhill over the years. I’m not going to get into specifics, but if you really need AutoTune THAT much, well, you need some voice lessons.

This brings me into my annual (starting this year) list of celebs whose fame clocks really need to tick over from 14:59:

Taylor Swift
Bieber
Carly Rae Jepsen
Pitbull
Anybody with a surname of Kardashian

I also wanted to thank everyone for the 5,600 hits last year. That’s pretty amazing for a blog that I don’t uber-promote. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and comment.

Here’s to wishing you all the happiest and most prosperous New Year you can have. I’m going to leave you with something done by someone I have to assume is a demented bastard with too much time on his hands.

So, I ended the last post saying that I would keep moving forward. Here’s what’s happening.

I got to day work next week. I’ve been working evenings since the beginning of May, and there’s some upside there. Namely getting to see more of Supportive Partner Woman (Sportschick extraordinaire!) and not having to worry about appointment scheduling. The downside is that you miss out on a lot of stuff in the evening and it also really messes with my natural circadian rhythm.

I’m also looking forward to the change in that it gives me more opportunity to cook fish. I love fish, but my co-workers aren’t exactly enthralled when you heat it up in the microwave. Even a plank roasted salmon that primarily smells like wood smoke brings out the great wailing and gnashing of teeth. The challenge, though, will be to not succumb to boredom eating. I’ll either need a second job or some kind of hobby to keep me busy. Sadly, the hobby can’t just be building Legos. That gets to be somewhat expensive.

B-Wing

Speaking of Lego, my most recent project was the B-Wing starfighter from the Star Wars Ultimate Collectors Series. I love the UCS sets… they are usually a more challenging build with lots of pieces and the attention to detail is astounding. They also come with a handy display stand and aren’t plagued with tons of stickers like other lower-end sets. This marks my third UCS set, and while not as challenging as the Imperial shuttle, it still took me a few days to get it together.

One of my main projects will be to adapt to meal planning. All too often, I’m throwing something together with what I have on hand, rather than having what I would really like to have. This will hopefully eliminate the discovery of four year old shrimp in the freezer.

I also have to adjust my workout schedule. My two sanctioned workouts this week are going to be at 7 AM, followed by full shifts. We will see how that winds up going. If it doesn’t fly too well, I can always go after work. I can also walk the neighborhood after work as the temperatures have cooled considerably. It was tough to do in mid afternoon when temperatures and humidity hovered around “boiling”.

All I can promise is that I’ll be making changes. Whether they work remains to be seen. Hopefully it will get the scale moving in the right direction.

Have a great weekend!

Greetings!

Supportive Partner Woman (builder of Lego sets!) and I decided to beat the heat yesterday and take a drive to the King of Prussia mall. See, we have many pseudo-nieces and nephews and one of them, Ian, recently had a birthday. Ian has a bit of a Lego problem, too, but whereas I’m particular about which sets I buy, he will build darn near anything. So, since we needed to get him a birthday gift (late, but that’s how we roll), we felt a visit to the closest Lego store was in order.

Sopwith Camel

The Lego store at K of P is pretty sizeable. It should be, seeing as it pretty much serves most of eastern Pennsylvania and south Jersey. There’s also one at Christiana Mall in Newark, DE that is about the same distance away, but takes about 30 minutes longer to get to. Beside the point. We wound up buying a Lego Werewolf set and a couple of minifigs for the boy, and a Sopwith Camel set for us. Yes, for us. This will actually be the first non-architecture set that The Management will be building. She acquitted herself well building the top wing assembly all by herself. It’s a big achievement when you realize that she never built a Lego set as a child.

 

Save the Clock Tower!

So, after leaving the store we decided to pay a visit to the new Wegman’s, also in King of Prussia. They were having plenty of in store tastings, they even had a guy shilling the VitaMix blender. Our last visit to the K of P Wegman’s was a bit of a letdown… but I think it was because of the time of day… see, we stopped after the Neil Diamond concert. They really did redeem themselves. We managed to score a nice piece of sockeye salmon. It’s not Copper River, but the color is still a vibrant red and it should roast up beautifully.

Every time I’m in one of these stores, I can’t help but compare it to the big national grocery chains, like Giant. The selection, the cleanliness, the friendliness really make me want to never set foot in a Giant again. So, until such a point as they put a Wegman’s in cow country, I will be forced to shop at the same old boring stores, because it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to driver 45 minutes to grab a gallon of milk. I have hopes, though, of someday soon seeing a clock tower rising above the farm fields and retail power centers of Cow Country.

Other than the lovely salmon, we departed with some cherries, strawberries and bananas, a few other items, and some poultry sausage. That was recommended to me as a healthier alternative to boring old pork sausage. I look forward to trying it.

After leaving Wegman’s, we went in search of sustenance. My sugar had started to fall off and, well, we were hungry. We headed up the Turnpike and decided to make a return visit to The Drafting Room in Exton, PA. This is a lovely taproom and grill that SPW (drinker of many beers!) and I had last been to on my birthday. Perhaps not the healthiest choice, but considering the time, we were able to get seated right away and have food in belly soon after. SPW (avowed carnivore!) went with their hot roast beef sandwich while I decided to go with a burger topped with some Vermont cheddar. We both opted for a crab and corn chowder as an appetizer. The soup came, topped with a spicy, smoky jalapeno bacon, and it was delicious. If we would’ve been there alone, I might’ve licked the bowl. It was that good.

Sorry Mom, not a clean plate

The burger came and after a few bites, I was starting to run out of gas. Then it’s decision time. Ask yourself how many times you got the starving children speech when you were growing up. Or, as my very Catholic mother would tell us, it’s a sin to waste food. According to the psychologist I saw, that actually contributes to weight gain. We’re taught to clean our plates, but the portion sizes are insane these days, as a result, we wind up consuming way more calories than we should. A good idea when confronted with a huge portion would be to ask for a box first, and pack up half of your meal for later. That’s not really an option with a burger… they usually don’t reheat well, so I did the next best thing. I ate the rest of the meat and the garnishes while leaving the vast majority of the fries (I think I had two or three) and half the roll.

So today’s lesson… just because it’s in front of you, doesn’t mean you have to eat all of it. You can save some for another day or eat the portions that are better for you (protein and veggies, for example)

what I will be writing about today. I have a streak going that I don’t want to break, so I’ll just start typing and see what happens.

I mentioned in the little biography blurb that I have a wee bit of a Lego problem. It’s true. I’m fascinated by those little plastic bricks. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, but the few Legos I had were very well-used. I spent a lot of time building spaceships of my own design, knowing then that since there’s vacuum in space, my ships could be very rectangular. Well, that and there weren’t a lot of round pieces back in the dark ages.

Fast forward to December 2011, we were visiting the Lego Imagination Center in Orlando at Downtown Disney. I was taken by the sheer number of choices available. Being as I like Star Wars, I was checking out some of the Lego Star Wars sets, lusting after the Super Star Destroyer that cost $400, things like that, when I saw the AT-AT.

WANT!

To quote my friend Jed, “I’m generally very pro-AT-AT.” I thought it would be a great set to build after being out of the Lego game for 20 years. It was only about 815 pieces, reasonably priced as such things go, and the last one they had. I bought it, then realized I had a problem. How the heck would I get it on the plane? This was a pretty big box and The Management and I were only travelling with carry-on bags.

Luckily, a friend of ours we would be seeing at New Years was travelling via Auto Train and was willing to take the AT-AT home for us. It was sad, though… I had to wait another three weeks to build it. Or even to see it again. Sniffle.

So, December 30, The Management and I headed to scenic Glenside, PA, to take in a Cinematic Titanicdouble feature featuring two of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. One was called Astral Factor. Starring Robert Foxworth and a pantsless Stefanie Powers, well, it’s as bad as you might think it would be. The other was called Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, and that was even worse. All that is beside the point… I was finally reunited with the AT-AT. I was rather happy about this, as you can probably tell from the picture.

The Precioussssssss

The next day, I was able to start construction. It came back to me and I was again struck by the attention to detail. This even had movable legs and a General Veers minifig! I started understanding why the sets were so expensive and just how much detail goes into them.

After watching me build that, The Management decided she wanted to join the fun and we managed to pick up a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, from the Lego Architecture Series. Lego Architecture takes some of the world’s landmarks and renders them in Lego bricks… some results are better than others. I consider Fallingwater to be an amazing rendering, whereas the Sydney Opera House was a dud, IMHO.

Anyways, she built that in one night and our family addiction was born. Currently, the Nerd Lair is populated by many of the sets from the Original Trilogy films. There’s a TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Y-Wing and the Millennium Falcon. On the bar is one exception, an Ultimate Collectors Series version of Obi-Wan’s Jedi Starfighter. Also on the bar is my birthday present… an Ultimate Collectors Series Imperial Shuttle. That took me nearly a week to complete, but it was certainly worth it.

In short, Legos were a big part of my childhood and one I’m very glad I’ve not only been able to rediscover, but one that I’ve been able to share with The Management. Her next build is in the house… an Architecture Series rendition of the Robie House. We’ll see how it goes.

Hope you all have a great weekend and can treat yourselves well. I have a regular doctor’s appointment on Monday. Hope I’ll be able to report a few pounds lost.