Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy 50th, Lego

It's Lego's 50th birthday and here are some interesting facts about the little wonder brick:

  • On January 28, 1958, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen submitted a patent for the interlocking and studded plastic brick
  • The name Lego comes from the first two letters of the Danish words "Leg godt" or "play well" in English
  • The company's iconic toy allows an infinite number of assembly combinations. With just two bricks there are 24 different combinations, and with six there are 915 million possibilities
  • A half-century after its creation, more than 400 million children and adults play each year with the bricks, spending five billion hours a year putting them together and pulling them apart
  • The bricks made today can still interlock with those made in the first batch in 1958
  • South Korean adventurer Heo Young-Ho, who climbed Mount Everest in 1987, left a Lego toy behind in the snow after his ascent
  • Lego was named "Toy of the Century" in 1999 by US business magazine Fortune
  • Seven boxes of Lego are sold every second around the world
  • 19 billion components are produced each year -- enough to wrap around the Earth's circumference five times

Lego was one of my favourite toys as a child, I used to spend hours and hours playing with it. I inherited a box of Lego bricks and over time I was bought some Lego of my own. Although I received other building blocks of various types, it was always Lego that did it for me. My kids play Lego too, although they have the Bionicle sets as well as the straightforward blocks. However, they probably play more with the simple blocks than the Bionicle sort.  [News source for the facts above]

Thursday, January 24, 2008

One of those weeks

It's been a busy 7 days. I've a busy week next week too. Finding time for my leisure activity has been an issue lately. However, I'm here and I've had some wine and I'm ready. Ready for what? I ate some Oatibix today, a new(ish) breakfast cereal that comes in sachets you add milk to and microwave. I have to say that, although slightly sceptical at first, I actually enjoyed it and appreciated the warmth in my stomach and I also appreciated not feeling too hungry before having lunch. Isn't that just the worst part of being at work - when you get the mid-morning munchies so bad that you feel like you have to either eat or be sick. Life is so much better when you have the opportunity to snack mid morning. I've worked in some places with no canteen or snack shops that you can sneak off to, what dives! I did work somewhere once that had a Bun Wagon, a motorised cafe that opened for business anywhere and provided hot tea, cakes and even bacon sandwiches. The latest anti-obesity drive seems to have demonised bacon, which is a shame since it is probably my favourite meat. I also really like sausages, especially sausage rolls - another foodstuff that has been demonised. I did buy a sausage roll this week though. I'm so bad when I'm on the road! That's the trouble with combining diets with work - you have to have food to give you the fuel to carry on. What's the answer? Come on you new age chefs, tell us how we can eat healthy and have jobs where you travel so much!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It seems to me that habits have a way of slowly forming. Sometimes I don't even realise that something is a habit until I stop and think about it. Habits can occur when you are in a certain place or at a particular time of the day. Maybe a habit is related to mood or maybe even to circumstances outside of your control. Habits can include things like the food you buy and cook, where you put your keys when you get home, what type of subject matter you read, what you usually drink, where you put your shoes, the route you take to work and which hand you open a door with. If you subtracted from an average day the number of hours spent doing things habitually, roughly how much time would be left? Is that the time you actually get things done and make a difference with? That would be a good question for an employer to ask its employees.

We like habits in general, they are comfortable and familiar and we are usually in control of the situation. Stepping outside of that comfort zone takes courage and energy. It extends us in ways we don't perhaps understand at the time. Habits can be bad, there are obvious ones like smoking or drinking to excess and less obvious ones (to other people) that we are more inclined not to admit to, like buying shoes or clothes too often. Some habits are foisted upon us not through direct choice but by our own preference - like taking a route through a building to avoid a particular person.

Habits are interesting things aren't they? And I didn't have a clue what I would write about when I started this.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Reading Box

Here's a fictional account of an idea I had this morning while slowly waking up and becoming aware of the morning. I love books, they surround me at home and I like dipping into my reading all the time. I wish I had the time to read more. There is something physical about turning the pages of a book and holding it while you read that I don't think will ever be captured by technology. I've used a few handheld electronic ebook readers and you just don't get the same feeling.

The Reading Box project began as a concept in 2008. The chain opened with one store inside the London North circular road on a trading estate. The large boxlike purple structure attracted attention through its use of bright neon lettering, strong vibrant colour scheme and homely interior spaces. Multi-functional, flexible spaces allowed for white-walled business use as meeting spaces during the day that were converted into softly lit colourful and homely interior spaces in the evenings. Poetry readings, book clubs for an assortment of tastes, fresh coffee on tap, easy internet access, alignment to its own social networking site brought adults together to physically meet in a safe environment. One of the secrets of its success was the alignment of social and commercial use. Reading groups used the bookshop, the staff were knowledgeable on books - being librarians or bookstore workers themselves. Some linked the growth of The Reading Box chain to the increase in printed book sales and in particular print on demand books. Other commentators cite the low entrance fees, library-like atmosphere and the generous "try before you buy" ethos. A person could use the website to discuss authors and arrange groups to meet face-to-face for ongoing discussion while reading the book at the same time. The introduction of author readings added to the appeal. Authors would hold cosy reading sessions for small groups of 15 people gathered around on sofas, beanbags and the floor. Authors preferred the reading sessions to cold, impersonal bookstore signings. Slogans like "The world will be a better place if we all just sit down and read together", "The Reading Box: the space to think", the self-mocking "The Reading Box: Join Us", "Think out of the Box", "The Reading Box: Books. People. Comfort" and designer T shirts created a mini craze for The Reading Box merchandise and some argue merchandise brought more revenue than the nominal entrance fees. Some commentators have criticised The Reading Box for its temple-like rule about leaving shoes in boxes by the door calling it "a soft play area for grown-ups". Others argue that leaving ones shoes by the door is disarming and makes for a friendlier atmosphere. The success of The Reading Box continues now into 2011 despite minor criticisms and the current trend away from doing everything online to a more hybrid approach fits well with the company ethos and the new counter culture where once it was cool to market yourself on the web now it seems cool not to have a web presence at all.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Do I want new glasses?

I got my hair cut in between Christmas and New Year. I forgot about it but several people commented on it today as soon as they saw me, saying it was nice and it sort of threw my concentration for a few seconds. I have lost a couple of stones in weight because of the diet and I feel good for it. I'd like to try getting some new glasses but I find the process of choosing them quite difficult, I don't know whether my prescription has changed - last two times I've had my eyes tested I've found that my short sightedness has actually improved so I've had to have less powerful prescriptions. I'm told that this happens getting older, which I'm less thrilled about. So if I did get new glasses I'm not really sure what sort to get, maybe I should create a "mood board" for the kind of image I want? A mood board apparently is a poster or board with photos cut from lifestyle magazines - usually used for representing what you like in terms of design, style and taste of anything from cars to household furnishings. I'm not sure what would be on my mood board for face furniture, though obviously I'd want to project an image like a studious Keanu Reeves!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday lunch

Just having my lunchbreak so I thought I'd blog at the same time.

I watched Sunshine last night, directed by Danny Boyle who directed Trainspotting and 28 Days Later. It was good, if you like suspense and sci-fi you'll probably like it. The DVD skipped a little at the climax, so I might have missed a few important seconds (rather annoyingly) but even so I enjoyed the experience of watching it.

Over the weekend I hope to play some videogames, I'm working my way slowly through the terrorists on Rainbow Six Las Vegas on Xbox360 and I'd like play some of the new Mario game on the Wii. I'll also probably watch a few Hammer films from the box set and Pirates and possibly Die Hard 4.0.

My guitar class starts again on Monday evening, I've moved into the Improvers class so that will be harder and I'll need to do some practicing for that.

I also started my novel this week and need to work on that too. So a full weekend in prospect! I hope you have a great weekend too!!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Movie Time

We have rented some titles to watch:

  • 300
  • Sunshine
  • Hairspray
  • Pirates of the Carribean At World's End
  • Die Hard 4.0

I watched 300 last night, it was OK but not as good as I thought it would be. I didn't really know what to expect. I did enjoy it, don't get me wrong but I think it was pretty well hyped to be more than it actually was.

My wife reports that John Travolta played a good part in Hairspray, I don't know as I didn't watch it. It didn't appeal to me but I might have enjoyed it had I been in the mood.

I'm looking forward to watching Sunshine this evening. I saw 28 Days Later and I think it's the same director, name escapes me for the moment.

Also, we got a bargain yesterday: 21 disk boxset of Hammer Horror films for 40 instead of 150 pounds. There were a few vampire films with Christopher Lee and a few Peter Cushing films too. I can't wait, I love those old horror films. I'd love to get the Amicus collection on DVD too. Haven't seen that cheap enough yet though.

I'm probably not going to enjoy the pirates film and I have my doubts about Die Hard 4.0. I liked the previous Die Hard films, I bought the boxset but I'm just not sure a fourth is necessary. Oh well, only one way to find out...