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Is there anybody out there?

Oct. 23rd, 2013 | 08:13 pm

This is just a quick post to see if anyone out there still reads livejournal. I've been toying with the idea of writing again, but I don't know where best to do it.

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Famous Hands and Big Summer Plans

Apr. 27th, 2008 | 06:40 pm

When thinking of the most famous hands of all time, what comes to mind? Perhaps the hands of Michelangelo as seen in his masterpiece 'David.' Maybe it's the Queen of England with her royal wave. Or more likely, Hamburger Helper with his curious grin and optimistic 'cook your own damn food' attitude :)

Well, after many months of training in the off season, my hands have finally been discovered as the next Scandinavia's Top Model--Hand Edition. Ok, not really, but they are now up on the LEGO website in a series of new web tips that launched just a few days ago! You can find them at http://creator.lego.com/en-us/buildingtips/Default.aspx. I'm in three so far--one of which is on You Tube. Feel free to check them out at:

http://creator.lego.com/en-us/buildingtips/Category2/Creatures%201.aspx

http://creator.lego.com/en-us/buildingtips/Category3/Columns.aspx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITJXiqM0Le4

I also just found out last week that I will be included in a new book that's coming out later next month called "50 years of the LEGO brick." I saw a preliminary copy and have to say it looks pretty sweet. They've really gone all out with the book by including special inserts throughout including copies of the original patent as well as other nostalgic goodies. The German version is already available through the publisher at:

http://www.heel-verlag.de/cgi-bin/cosmoshop/lshop.cgi?action=showdetail&wkid=9552&ls=d&nc=1209318363-9583&rubnum=&artnum=9783898808606&file=6&gesamt_zeilen=0Tsuche--lego

Wow, that's one-crazy-long link up there!

In other news, I will be acting as the MC for on one of the two LEGO Inside Tours this June. It makes me smile to think back just a few years when I would have sold my left kidney just to go on the tour!! And now...how strange how things come around.

I'll also be heading to BrickWorld in Chicago for the 19th to the 22nd of June. I'm planning on giving one of the 50 minute presentations, so feel free to let me know if there's any particular topic you think I should talk about.

Then after BrickWorld, I'll be headed to the East Coast where I will try to help promote my brother's new chiropractic office. I'm still trying to think of how I can tie LEGO into chiropractic health, but I'm sure I can figure it out :) I'll also be giving away some very cool goodies that will hopefully bring in families from all over the Merrimack Valley.

I'm sooooooo looking forward to visiting the family this summer. My nieces and nephews are too much fun to be so far away from. Plus I miss my brothers and sister and Mom & Dad terribly. We've been working pretty hard over here to meet some ambitious deadlines, so a few weeks state-side should really do me some good! :)

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Nürnberg Toy Fair...

Feb. 6th, 2008 | 07:25 pm

I'm off to the Nürnberg Toy Fair tomorrow. Woo-Hoo! It should be a smashing good time.

I'll give an update when I get back on Sunday.

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Birthday wishes from Google!

Jan. 28th, 2008 | 09:34 am

www.google.com

Only good today. I'll try and post a screenshot for tomorrow :)

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Birthday wishes for a 2x4

Jan. 27th, 2008 | 11:13 pm

Hi everyone,

I know it's been a while, but I thought I'd just post a quickie to address some of the messages and emails I've been receiving about the Green Grocer images that have surfaced on the web this past weekend.

As much as I would like to talk all about the project and the model, I unfortunately have to keep quiet for now because the set has not been officially announced yet.

What I can say is to check out the next issue of BrickJournal to find out lots of cool stuff about the 10184 Town Plan that just came out for our 50th anniversary of the LEGO Brick. I'm pretty excited about the model and am happy to have worked on it with two of our most talented designers. See if you can guess which two buildings I designed...

http://shop.lego.com/ByTheme/Product.aspx?p=10184&cn=245&d=100

Tomorrow is the official birthday for our beloved 2x4 brick, so I'm looking forward to a fun-filled day at work. Yay!

On a completely non-LEGO related topic, I just tried my first iTunes movie rental tonight. Woo-Hoo! It took almost an hour to download Transformers. Blah! If you're hoping to try it out, I'd definitely plan ahead before sitting down for a romantic evening with your date :)

I haven't given up on this whole journaling thing, btw. It's just a bit more tricky now as LEGO tries to better manage its outlets of information dissemination. Ooh, that one just rolls off the tongue.

Which reminds me, have you had a chance to check out the CREATOR website yet?

http://creator.lego.com/en-US/designstudio/bios/Jamie.aspx

Oh man, I'm just all about tacky self-promotion tonight! Anyways, the design studio section is pretty cool. I like the way they created little cartoon characters of each of the designers on the team. Stay tuned for some pretty neat improvements to the site over the coming months. I don't want to give away any details, but lets just say that my hands might be famous ;)

It's good to be writing again. I'll see what I can do to post more soon.

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Open Mouth. Insert Foot.

May. 18th, 2007 | 11:56 am

A teenage boy cautiously stood up in front of the gathered crowd of twenty. Eager anticipation grew as he revealed his newly created masterpiece model. Built over a single night's time, the beautifully designed LEGO church teemed with timeless charm and exquisite detailing. The crowd marveled. This was truly something to be proud of.

Gaining confidence with each reassuring nod of his inspired audience, he spoke: "I tried to make it as close to reality as possible. It's got a stained-glass window and a wooden door. I used a whole bunch of different colored bricks to make the walls look old and worn. Here's the alter and there are even three people in the pews..."

"Just like a real church," I quipped.

The crowd nervously chuckled and then a few began to "oooooooh." Oh man, I can't believe I let that one slip out. The kid smiled and continued onward with his exposition.

Later in the evening, the boy's father sat down next to me and politely smiled. "You know, I couldn't help but comment on your remark earlier. I'm a Baptist Minister..."

When I worked at Disney back in 1995, there were three simple topics that we were completely forbidden from talking about with guests: Sex, Politics and Religion. To entertain such a conversation with anyone on Disney property was grounds for termination. You would have thought that I would have learned a lesson so long ago. Nope, instead, I yet again had to acquaint myself with the unpalatable flavor of foot in my mouth.

Actually, the father was very cool about the whole thing and we had a pretty lighthearted conversation about how religion is struggling to reconnect with today's society.  But it just reminds me yet again how I really need to work better at filtering my own thoughts.

On a less awkward topic, The Cafe Corner, now on it's third month on the market, has really inspired some very cool stuff in the fan community.  I've been contacted almost every week now with someone showing me a link to someone's cool creation.  If you're really bored, feel free to check out some of these fun links:

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=2395335

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=242115

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=241402

http://festum.de/1000steine/myimages/album836

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=243096

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=244148

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=245077

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=243628

http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/matthewcrandall9/BF2007pix/pict0067.jpg

http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/BrickMeister/Liberation10182/liberation_at_cafe_corner_001.jpg

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=242586

http://brickzone.net/reviews/10182.html

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=244908

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=2372535

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=2408666

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=2376217

http://www.maj.com/gallery/Timothy-Smith/10182/10182Modules/002.jpg

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=247453

http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/mumu/Vignette/MiniCC/minicc_01.jpg

My favorite link, however, has to be the new blog that Richard created for fans of the Cafe Corner.  You can check it out at:

http://bricktowntalk.blogspot.com/

In non-LEGO news, I'm finally moved into my new apartment.  It's a pretty decent place and the neighbors are really nice.  After being in storage for over a year, all my stuff is finally over here too.  Woo-Hoo!  No more living out of the two suitcases I brought here 15 months ago :)

One of the other nice things about having my own place is that I now finally have internet access.  Yay!  Hopefully this will give me more opportunities to try and keep up with some of the family and friends back in the States.  I miss you guys!

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New Cafe in town...

Mar. 10th, 2007 | 02:49 pm

Heya!

I know I've been away for a while, but I assure you, it's all for a good cause. Hopefully you'll think it's worth it when you get your LEGO catalogs in the mail early next year.

In the meantime, I'm happy to announce that my second LEGO set is finally on the market. Woo-Hoo! I have to warn you though--this is no $20 airplane :)

Weighing in at a cool 2056 bricks, 10182 Cafe Corner is a whopper of a set. It just went up for sale today at LEGO Brand Retail stores and at Shop@Home for a mere (cough, cough) $139.99! It's a lot of money, for sure. But I'm hoping that it offers a completely unique and exciting building experience that makes the price a little easier to swallow. It's been something that I've always hoped that LEGO would release and I'm just happy that they trusted me enough to finally make it a reality.

BrickJournal interviewed me about a month ago to find out how the whole project developed. You can read all about it in the issue that just came out today:

http://news.lugnet.com/publish/brickjournal/?n=156

You can also check out the Cafe Corner at Shop@Home if there's no LEGO Store near you:

http://shop.lego.com/ByCategory/Product.aspx?p=10182&cn=233&d=263

Ok, enough LEGO talk, I have to get back to work in order to make my deadlines for Friday. Wow, 2008 is looking good :)

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Fan Week

Dec. 13th, 2006 | 12:28 pm

So much to write about, so little time. I'm with LEGO fans all week, so you likely won't here from me until next week or Christmas.

Also, big changes for the journal coming up. More details to come early in January.

Cheers and Happy Merry Christmas if I don't talk to many of you before the holidays!

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Yes, I will trade autographs for cookies...

Nov. 15th, 2006 | 09:32 pm

Would you be impressed if I told you I was famous in Thailand? Hmmm... With absolutely no connection to Asia, I had to think about that one too :)

Two weeks ago I was quickly rushed across the street for a very impromptu meeting with a Thai TV crew who were touring the LEGO facilities. My Creative Director Rosario had snatched 4 of us from our desks on her way out the door. There were two female designers from Creative Building and Phil and I from CREATOR. Our brief was simple. Smile for the cameras and enjoy some quality time with our guests. It sounded tough, but I was sure that I could take up the challenge.

With lights all around and this slightly eccentric guy posing us in the most unnatural of positions, a nice woman did her best to break the ice with a simple question:

"What makes Denmark the happiest place on earth?"

Of course my first thoughts were of swimming my hands through a basement of brick here at work where hundreds of thousands of little plastic gems tickle my fancy and bring nonstop smiles to my face. But then I snapped out of it and thought about the rest of the country. Surly, they didn't have limitless toys in their basements? It was a pretty good question indeed! Why are the Danes so happy?

It's not the taxes. It's not the cheese. It's not the endless supply of gray wet mornings and early afternoon darkness…

Her question stemmed from an poll (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5224306.stm) that was recently released showing that Denmark is the happiest place on earth. They attributed it mostly to health, prosperity and education. I agree that Denmark is excellent at all three, but I still think there are greater factors at work like the relative lack of stress due to job security (the commune finds you another job if you're let go) and the strong belief that family comes first above all else. Those to me are very powerful.

Anyways, we never really got a chance to answer the question before flashes burst and direction from the photographer took over. At the end of our session, Phil and Cynthia stayed a bit longer to answer more questions. Benedictine and I joked that we were coming back to our building as mere mortals...but in Thailand--watch out!

Only a week later, a blast from my LEGO past paid me a visit. If any of you have been reading this journal for a while, the name David Sheff (http://www.amazon.com/Game-Over-Press-Start-Continue/dp/0966961706 ) might seem familiar to you. He's an author that I met a few years back in California at the LEGOland Master Model Builder Finals. At that time, he had just started preparing content for an upcoming book about LEGO. We've stayed in limited contact since then and recently I found out that he's still working on the book and now even has the blessings of LEGO upper management.

It was very cool to see him here in Billund. He really got the royal treatment--a manufacturing tour, access to the archives and interviews with all of the who's-who in the company. I was really quite honored that he managed to squeeze me in his tight schedule for a dinner conversation. We had a blast. I could just talk with him for hours. Hey wait, we actually did talk for hours! Although, any of you who know me are quite aware that I'm not one who's short for some good conversation. He's going to continue working over the coming year or two on the book and even mentioned a possible opportunity to get together some time that I'm back in the States. How cool is that?

I'm convinced that things happen in threes for me. No sooner did David Sheff hop on a plane back to the California, that Phil asked me if I'd be interested in speaking with a gentleman from the New York Times who was looking for a designer to interview. Woo-Hoo! I was on a roll.

John and I sat for about an hour geeking out about LEGO. I got to show him several of the prototypes that I made leading up the the finished plane that's coming out in January. He was very nice and enthusiastic. I knew up front that his article will likely not have much to do with the design process. It's even very likely that I won't make it in the final piece. But, whether mentioned or not, I can hardly pass up a chance to talk about LEGO. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything more about the article.

Wow...TV, a LEGO book, and The New York Times... Are there any good agents out there?? I'm starting to think Hollywood might soon come knocking! I just hope they like shooting in a dark grey mist on location because my bike only takes me so far ;)

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31 and still ticking...

Nov. 1st, 2006 | 09:28 pm

Well, it’s official. I’m no longer a well-seasoned 30 year old. As of Saturday the 14th, I’m now a very young 31 year old. Woo-Hoo! Thanks to everyone who took the time to send me some birthday wishes. I definitely am feeling the love.

Normally turning 31 would seem to be a fairly uneventful time in people’s lives. Most have already had their pre-midlife crisis at 30 and are now just resigned to the fact that they need to accept nothing better than the prospect of an increasing waistline and receding hairline.

I like to take a more positive approach to aging. I mean, it’s going to happen whether you like it or not, so you might as well smile and enjoy all the perks you can get with it. For example, I managed to get lots of phone calls, cards and cake, a very cool care package from my mom with cookies, cereal and LEGO, and I got a free cup of oolong ginseng tea at the amusement park Tivoli in Copenhagen. Not a bad start to the year!

Tivoli is such a great place to visit. I think I remember reading somewhere that Walt Disney came up with the idea of Disneyland after a trip to Tivoli. Of course, he decided to take out some of the more unsavory aspects of the place like the sale of cigars and beer as well as the abundance of topless women images throughout the park. There is just something weird about kids getting their photo taken with their head sticking through a cutout of a painted topless woman in a bathtub.

My friend Dennis works at Tivoli and was kind enough to give me the VIP treatment during my visit. He introduced me to one of my new favorite roller coasters. Named "Roller Coaster," this firecracker of a ride is one of the oldest Woodies left in the world.

To give you an idea of how old that is, the train cars only have wheels above the track which leaves nothing to prevent riders from jumping right off the rails. Quite simply put, your fate lies in the hands of one very important brakeman who skillfully throttles back your momentum as you careen full force around intense curves and dramatic dips. As soon as you feel those wheels jumping free from the track you pray to god that your teenage brakeman didn’t just have a break-up with his oh-too-beautiful girlfriend.

I was completely up for it when Dennis recommended we try out the new tower swing ride that just opened this year. Of course that all changed as soon as our spinning seats began climbing higher and higher into the air. With feet dangling and no more than a chain-hung small basket to sit in, I very quickly experience paralyzing fear. Every small breeze of air would twist the chains and toss my seat like an insignificant leaf to and fro. It was one of the scariest rides I’ve ever been on. You should check it out ;)

That weekend in Copenhagen afforded me yet another unique opportunity to see just how different cultures across oceans can be. When I bought a beverage in Tivoli, they charged me 5 extra kroner than the list price on the sign. I just assumed it was a sugar tax of some sort, but the kind lady behind the counter informed me that I could deposit the cup in any one of a dozen or so machines around the park for a rebate. Finished with the drink, I placed the inverted cup in the machine. Suddenly a frenzy of high-pressure activity within climaxed with intense whooshing and splashing sounds. As a finale to the show, my 5 kroner coin dropped down the shoot and gave me good reason to buy another drink just to see the show all over again!

I think Europeans in general have a much healthier view of the world we live in and what it takes to ensure its environmental health and prosperity. Recycling is taken very seriously here. When you buy a bottle of coke, the bottle is likely to have several scratches and nicks in the glass. Unlike the States where we grind up and re-form a new hermetically sealed package, the idea over here is to clean the container and reuse it.

On a side note, have you ever seen about a dozen or so blind people getting hair cuts outside at a public plaza? Yeah, I can't say that's something I come upon regularly, but sure enough, that's exactly what I saw on my way to Tivoli. It was some sort of blind awareness day and it drew quite a crowd. I couldn't help but wonder what it must be like getting a haircut if I was blind. Do blind people get hair coloring?

I started writing this a couple of weeks ago and now have a whole new host of things to talk about. Two weeks ago I went to LEGO World in Holland and had a blast. My plane seemed to go over really well with the kids at the event. It was so cool seeing their faces light up once they discovered the mechanism that makes the wings swing open. I tried my best to answer their questions, but it was much trickier than I imagined on account of the language barrier. Having just started learning Danish, there was no chance I was going to translate much of the Dutch most people were speaking. All I have to say is that my roommate Nathanael was a rock-star for the week. As the sole native dutchman in our group of 9 designers, he was very much the man to talk to at the event.

From LEGO World back to work, I've spent the past two weeks building models for some major deadlines coming up next week. We're working like crazy on preparing concept models for the 2008 product line. We also had a test last week in the UK where several of our models were shown to kids to get their impressions. The ones that tested best are now being further developed for an internal review from upper management. I'm really excited about some of the stuff the kids chose. I think we've got some awesome sets in the pipeline. I just have to keep my excitement in check because it's still a very long way until 2008.

Oh, and how could I forget the most amazing Halloween party ever? Some of the designers here had been preparing for it for the past two months. Wow, it was amazing. They had all the essentials, black-lights, spider-webs, a creepy old organ, corpses, a blood splattered shower, a skull and bone chandelier, a cadaver on a table split in half by a giant blade that swung from the high ceiling, and so much more. The costumes were over-the top. My friend Dave went as a fortune teller complete with portable booth and crystal ball. We had Bender from Futurama, a pregnant nun, a tribal chief, a squid man, Tetris pieces, and tons of spooky ghouls and funky monsters. I went as luggage. :)

Throughout the night everyone was talking about this one creepy guy who always seemed to be watching us silently through his nasty old man mask. No one knew who he was or how he got in. He spoke to no one. He just was there. Wouldn't you know it, he even won a prize at the party for having the most terrifying costume. Of course he went up and took his prize without offering so much as a hint of his true identity.

The next morning there was a note in the mailbox from the mystery guest. With a drawn profile of is face creeping across the left hand side of the paper, he offered a hand-written thank you for an evening of amazing memories. He said it was the best party he had ever been to and wanted to congratulate them on their success. And true to his form, he finished the letter without even his initials. We'll just have to wait til next year to try to pull a Scooby-Doo to unmask that mystery man!

Well, as of last Friday, the local convenient store served their last ice cream cone for the season. As of last Sunday, LEGOland closed its gates and won't open them again until the spring thaw. And just today, a freaky snow storm ripped through Billund blanketing the town with foam-like winter pellets. Yup, it looks like I'm in for 6 more months of wet gray darkness. Let's just hope that the freaky guy from the party hibernates for the winter. I'd hate to bump into him while searching for the last tub of Boston Ice Cream in the Brugsen Frozen Food Section :)

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