Sunday, September 7, 2008


Well I had fun this weekend, but certainly nothing worth talking about because most of my time was spent in the "college-guy weekned slump..." actually come to think of it I did do interesting things but I won't write about them until later. Here's a story for my avid readers however: the history of Lego Civilization in the Midgett House:

I’ve always enjoyed being a problem solver. The reasons behind it are complicated. It’s almost as if, my thrill comes from the expression of creativity within the designing and problem-solving mode rather than from the actual completion of what I have done. I enjoy solving problems, especially if they involve something visual such as a device or design. I enjoy postulating and planning, building and adapting, but mostly I enjoy the challenge to continually make something better. I am a perfectionist. I can sit for hours building with legos just to figure out a more efficient way of doing something I can already do. I love to build and accomplish, and I like to continually adapt my project, often within construction, if I see a way to possibly make it better, more efficient, or miniaturized. For instance, in legos I discovered simplistic construction right away and quickly built bridges, walls, towers, and fortresses. I designed feudal technologies such as moveable gates that could still be as strong as the wall behind them and experimented until I found the best design. I then began to build Chariots and boats, finally settling upon weaponry and vastly improving them. The lego sets all included either small hand to hand weapons or long range weapons like cannons that did absolutely nothing—the force they exerted was so small. So I redesigned the weapons and created a working catapult model out of legos that flung large rocks up to 15 feet away. In lego dimensions this was a powerful weapon indeed, and although it did little against walls it was devastating to armies, units, and boats. Then I made a cannon that was 25 times as strong. I soon discovered that this new kind of cannon could destroy any gate, wall, or construction I had yet designed so I built stronger constructions such as my reinforced boats and rock fortresses. I even built a “Great Wall of China” which was impervious to my current weapons. But I was not satisfied. I perfected the cannon and catapult models until they could exert the strongest force possible with the current designs. I then abandoned the designs and made new ones. I quickly learned I could miniaturize the cannons or make them larger to exert more force, but all of my weapons still required force from me. So I redesigned yet again and created a larger, but more formidable cannon powered by rubber bands which would guide the force stored in tension down these near frictionless chutes. The bolts would then shoot out the end at about 3 or 4 times the speed of any other model. And I found that I could also shoot larger bolts increasing the damage factor of my cannons by about 10. My catapults I redesigned to have better balance and to shoot larger rocks and farther distances. These new models could destroy every wall and boat I had currently except for the Great Wall so I again redesigned all my structures. Previously they had been designed to be a generally strong structure, but the parts of construction were independently strong. I changed this so that all my new structures were designed to spread impact throughout the entire structure—eliminating the threat of any high-speed projectile that was not going too fast. The cannons still did a lot of damage, but they were now required to take multiple shots which gave the defenders a chance to retaliate with their own weapons which I built into the wall tops and structures. Boats changed from massive galleons to new armored steam models so as to deflect the new weaponry—and a new generation of lego ironclads was born. These were equipped with built in cannons of their own which were also designed to absorb shock and spread it through the boat, and so these new “lego fortresses” quickly become devastating. Impervious to nearly all weaponry they easily deflected cannon bolts and laid waste with their own weaponry to boats and shore-bound structures alike. When forced to encounter each other they would trade as much as 20 shots before a clear winner would emerge. At this stage I thought I might have finally attained equilibrium, but it was not to be so. Soon, two new types of weapons emerged—the shell and the artillery. The shell model started out as an experiment to see if I could make realistic-looking explosions out of lego pieces. I quickly discovered several models that not only exploded on impact, sending showers of lego shards in the air, they also did damage. And then I realized that my shells could replace the old rocks on the catapults. Although this new weapon did little to established forts or ironclads it was devastating to the standing armies and remaining sail-boats. While once an army had a chance against cannon weaponry, by spreading out and moving in with horse units to capture the cannon, they now had no chance at all. The catapults had but to place a shell in the middle of them and half the army would be blown apart. It took me about a day or two to design an attachment to let cannons launch shells as well. This gave the ironclads an even bigger advantage. Now, not only could they sit safely off-shore and deflect shots, they could shell the land and destroy any land-unit that yet existed. This all changed though with the creation of the artillery. Land-based fighters, now desperate to find a way to crush the ironclad, Created new, larger cannons that could shoot even larger bolts—some as big as a small ironclad. These large projectiles were inadvertently the undoing of every major structure yet created. After testing the weapons against the ironclad and discovering that not even the shock-resistant ironclad could deflect a well-placed bolt, I also discovered not nothing else could either. The Great Wall blew apart with almost a single shot. These new weapons were virtually the atom-bombs of my lego culture. They destroyed anything they shot at, even the best fortresses, and the construction of only one of them meant that a lego culture could become the new super-power. Under this new design, and the invention of planes with bombing capabilities, war ceased to exist because it was too costly. This harmony, however, was tentative. It only applied to the select few cultures which were advanced enough, and any uprising was quelled by a hammer stroke from planes, giant artillery bombardment, and ironclads. This advanced empire amused itself by blowing apart the smaller, primitive cultures it found springing up until it encountered a native culture that was actually able to match it. This culture did not have advanced weaponry, but soon learned how to build against it. They realized that the artillery, although nearly impossible to defend against could only destroy one thing at a time so they built a fleet of about 10 sailing boats and a culture of spread-out small bases. They also developed a new weapon I dubbed the giant crossbow which, although not as strong as an artillery was infinitely more accurate. The large projectiles were so big that they were also unwieldy and so the natives developed precision. With their giant crossbows they could easily hit a small, narrow target all the way across the room. So, when the raiders came again with an ironclad and cavalry to destroy them they had a surprise. Using muskets that they had acquired dealing with an opportunist they gave the impression that they were weak while still doing damage. When the more advanced units moved into range they opened fire. All 10 of the sailing vessels moved in to board the ironclad while the crossbows nailed down the incoming horsemen. In about 2 minutes all that was left was the ironclad which still managed to demolish the 10-boat fleet by ramming through it. The ironclad then opened fire on the natives, crippling one of the crossbows and destroying about half of the other structures. But the last crossbow had a surprise. Using a precision shot it nailed the artillery on-board the ironclad and disabled the weapon. The native vessels were then able to board and capture an ironclad. The natives then sent an envoy to demand peace in exchange for the vessel, but the empire refused. It considered itself immortal and sent every last vehicle it had including another ironclad, a steamboat with 2, on-board, giant artillery and another land army equipped with transport cars. They sent one of their primitive planes as well but it had little effect. But again the natives prevailed. They ambushed the troops again and the crossbows were able to destroy all but one horseman out of the approaching army. The large, captured ironclad proved to be a major asset and after a trade-out was able to sink the other ironclad. But not before disabling the giant artillery. These smashed through the on-shore forts and shot at the native ironclad, but the boat mounting was unsecure and these shots went wide. The natives then rammed the steamboat and knocked the giant artillery into the water. After the loss of these weapons the empire suffered another loss and was forced to deal with the new culture that so skillfully had captured all of their best weapons and technologies. These natives went on to change the war-torn industrial age into a modern one, and I was able to focus on more beautiful designs and architecture. One of the last weapons to be made was a new type of catapult that could fling its cargo across vast distances and was much better at resisting stress and therefore broke less times. My favorite test was where the catapult was able to fling a shell across half of the room while increasing the height of the projectile by about 5 feet. In other words it launched a rock that travelled about 2 miles without beginning to fall. This catapult was the start of my quest for excellence in machinery and my lego career turned toward mechanics. Through this experience and others in my life I have come to realize that my joy in problem-solving comes not from the actual solution. I love seeing something work, but the thrill for me comes from the pursuit itself—the image that I can always do better and do more.

(that was actually a journal entry for Engineering...we'll see how the proffessors like it!)


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"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."