Times Gone By

After building the two older Lego car sets I posted about recently, I checked to be sure there were no current sets that were interesting. After all, it’s a lot easier to get a Lego set from a store than to try to get one in good condition from eBay or somewhere else. And it turns out there was one that seemed pretty cool (Lego set 8421 for those keeping score at home), so I went ahead and ordered it while it was still easy to get. It’s a crane where the boom raises and lowers using a pneumatic system, and the boom extends and retracts (and the hook raises and lowers) with an electric motor. It also has six wheel steering and working stabilizers. My dad used to have Lego’s very first crane set back when I was little, so this one brought back some good memories for me while I was building it. Oh, and Charis absolutely loves the crane, which you would expect considering her fascination with construction vehicles. We spent a long time raising and lowering her baby doll’s pacifier over and over again.

The second Lego car I ordered arrived the other day. It’s the fifth and most recent set they released (Lego set 8448), and while it may not be quite as advanced technically as the other car I got, it was still a lot of fun to build. It’s rear-wheel drive with front-wheel steering, and it has a five speed transmission plus reverse. It also has a convertible top that raises and lowers. Since this set is newest of the Lego cars, it’s main feature is the more streamlined look that’s quite a bit less “Lego-ey” than the previous cars. Charis was again fascinated by Dad’s toy (“you made a red car dad! it is cool!”).

When I was elementary school, I remember that my dad had a couple of really cool Lego sets, including a big car chassis and a crane. I loved looking at them when I was little, and I liked building them when I was a bit older. It turns out that Lego eventually released five different car chassis sets over time (the one my dad had was the first), and Joy let me order a couple of them off eBay recently, just for fun. The first to arrive was the fourth car that was released (Lego set 8880). It’s the most complicated technically since it is four-wheel drive with four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel steering, and it also has a four-speed transmission. I had a lot of fun putting it together and Charis was quite fascinated by it (“dada has Legos like Charis!” and “you made it all by yourself dad!”). She really likes to watch the parts of the engine move as you roll the car along (“the fan has blades dad!”).

I heard from my long lost friend Jeremy Grim today! I was coding a new function at work this morning when I was interrupted by a random instant message from someone not on my contact list. I knew something was up because the IM was “Foo Shniggens” (a long story that some of you already know, but suffice it to say that I knew that wasn’t spam).

Anyway, it turns out it was my friend Jeremy from college whom I had lost touch with. Yes, this is the very same Jeremy that I built the cardboard burro with (the original cardboard animal). Jeremy is still up in Rhode Island working for Raytheon, and he has a beautful 6-month old baby girl, Alida. It was so neat to hear from him after all this time, and now that we are in contact once again, I hope we can keep it up!

People who knew me when I was younger know that I used to really like penguins. I found this picture taken at the Academy Awards yesterday, and I think it’s great. It’s a shot of the producer and director of “March of the Penguins” (which won for best documentary). Where can I get one of those giant stuffed penguins?

Part of my old website that I recently recovered describes a plot Abe, Rod and I hatched back in college to try to steal our rival dorm’s mascot. What was the mascot you might ask? It was a plastic pineapple, but that not really the point.

We discovered that a guy named Matt had the mascot stashed off campus at his uncle’s house. Abe called up Matt’s uncle, posing as someone from Northshore Pest Control, and asked if it would be okay if he came by to perform a free termite inspection. Matt’s uncle actually said yes, so Abe drove over to the house and searched the entire basement for termites while really looking for the pineapple.


I used to have a website on Tripod back in 1996, but after failing to login at Tripod for several years they deleted my pages. However, I just recovered them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The pages are about as dated as you might imagine for pages pushing a decade old. They include information on Gordon College, fainting goats, and a few other things. For your amusement, I’ve posted a mirror of my old site. Just don’t email me to tell me that 1996 called and wants its web pages back.

I dug my old yearbook out of the attic and scanned a picture of the Original Cardboard Animal. My friend Jeremy and I built “The Burro” in our junior year of college and we set him up in the computer lab in the library where we both worked. You will also notice “The Squirrel” in the upper right corner of the photo. I’ve got a few other college yearbook pictures in my personal gallery.

When I was in elementary school we had an Apple IIc and I remember playing games on that thing for hours. Every once in a while I’ll think about one of those old games and how much fun they were to play, despite being very simple compared to today’s games. I found a site with a web browser based Apple II emulator that has hundreds of games available. A few minutes playing around with this thing really brings back the memories. Now I just need to get some kind of joystick set up for my machine so I don’t have to use the keyboard. Some of my favorite games from back in the day include Dino Eggs, Lode Runner, and Moon Patrol.

Back in late elementary school and middle school, a Mongoose was *the* dirt bike to have. I mean, nothing was cooler than a Mongoose with custom pegs on the front and back. I also remember that it seemed like they were insanely expensive and only available from specialty bike shops. Well, I was in WalMart the other day and they had one right there on the rack next to all the other bikes for just over $100. My childhood dream has become a commodity?