Sunday, December 17, 2006


The end of the year 2006 is fast approaching, nibbling at the heels of the Christmas holidays. With the end of the year and the beginning of the new, we often find our thoughts drawn to the age old desire to form resolutions, to make ourselves better people.

As many of us, I've toyed with the idea in past years, thinking of those bad habits I would resolve to give up. I will say that, knowing myself too well, I've never actually made any resolutions, so I can honestly claim that I've never failed to live up to those desires. Accentuation of the positive extraction from a basically negative situation is further proof of my own cynicism than of any optimistic nature I'd prefer to pretend was the choice.

I've actually been considering seriously the entire concept of new year's resolutions, though I don't see myself making a list of things I'll immediately begin with the beginning of 2007. I'm thinking of a list of goals for myself to work toward over the course of the year.

I could easily list a number of bad habits that I could stand to make a break from, but I know that I don't work that way. What I've been missing for too long is that I need to make a point of developing good habits. Mostly, I need to begin to make better use of my time.

My default lately has been the computer, and I spend more time reacting to the kids and other household situations than is really good. I've neglected cleaning, which I don't really enjoy, to a point where we end up cleaning, not by putting things away, but by putting them in the most recent place they've been for too long that's out of the way until I really put it up, at which point I should mention, as an example, the box of tapes I mentioned so long ago. It's still where it don't go.

Many resolutions seem to focus on those bad habits we tend to pick up. I could certainly think along those lines and assume I'm doing some good. I've talked to two friends lately who insist they will quit smoking, and I wish them the best of luck. I won't be going this route, though I certainly could and perhaps even ought too. I am thinking less about losing bad habits instead developing good ones.

With the new year less than two weeks away, I plan to keep in mind all those things I do that dissatisfy me. I feel I miss a lot of opportunities, and I feel I can see where I'm at fault, though too often, in the moment, I don't really allow myself to recognize what I'm doing. I'm a terrible procrastinator, certain that I'll do these things in just a little bit, though too often, the things I do accomplish are hastily thrown about at the last minute.

real reason

Just had to share this in this hectic season of celebratory feelingness.

Hat tip to that crazy PZ Myers.

stupid mega blocks

Having children, and possibly moreso because they are both boys, we have collected a fair number of Legos. Additionally, we have a lot of Mega Blocks, very much like the Legos, but also very much unlike the Legos.

As anyone can understand, Legos and building with them, certainly have some limits as to what you can do. Lego has certainly introduced a huge variety of sets, pieces and even motors. So the possibilities themselves are limited mostly to things that are not physically impossible. As an example, we can look at a tower.

If you stick one Lego to another enough times, you can build a very large tower. Eventually it will get to a point that it is too tall. It can no longer physically support itself. A tower designed well can reach much higher than a poorly constructed one. We could also build a house with stacks of bricks for the walls, but if we use a mortar to hold the bricks together, and if we stagger the bricks and interlace them, the walls will be much stronger. It's all about design.

We can do this sort of thing with Legos because they are well made. They work well together. This is where we get to the Mega Blocks which just plain suck.

The Mega Blocks are nearly exactly like the Legos to look at. The people are constructed very differently, given more features than the average blocky Lego person. A lot of the MB pieces are designed to serve a specific place in the set. We have two, Power Rangers and pirates. They are fairly interchangeable with the Legos to the point where we've combined them all in the same tubs. One major difference is the walls that MB include. They are designed to fit onto the base and to be stackable. These pieces are really cool allowing some interesting structures.

The MB pieces are different as soon as you touch them. The plastic is even different, somehow seeming harder or more brittle than that used in Legos. Next, you're going to try to build with the Mega Blocks and you'll notice immediately that they don't quite stick together. They don't want to connect with each other and once connected don't want to stay. They are very frustrating for anyone to build with because of this.

Using both types of blocks, I've watched the boys build some interesting places. They don't care that they are two different brands because for the most part, they really do fit well together. The MB, for all the frustration when they won't stick, do eventually stick, mostly, though they create more frustration than any toy should. Frustration with toys can give us a chance to remind our kids to try a different direction. There is a difference in the frustration from needing to try something different and the frustration from poorly designed toys.

I can handle reminding Big Brother that he might try something different. But I hate reminding him, "Try not to get so frustrated. It's not you that can't build, it's that the Mega Blocks just suck. You know it's hard to make them stick sometimes, so maybe try something different."

To which he replies, "Stupid Mega Blocks."