Beachcombing for LEGO

A shipping container filled with over four million LEGO pieces fell overboard off the coast of Cornwall in 1997, and they've been washing up on nearby beaches ever since. Amusingly, the pieces are almost all nautical themed, ranging from octopus to diving tanks to flippers. As a fan of the mid-90's Aquazone and Divers themes, finding these would make for a pretty great day at the beach. Also included in the shipment were such classic themes as FrightKnights, Pirates, WildWest, Roboforce, Time Cruisers, Outback, and Police. I drooled over all these in the catalogs back then! Apparently dragons and octopi are the holy grail pieces, rare and exciting enough to attract collectors after heavy storms.

Image credit: Tracey Williams

Image credit: Tracey Williams

Unfortunately, like any plastic waste, all this LEGO is harmful to the marine environment, especially to animals like seabirds who will eat the colorful parts. While containers dropping off ships are nothing new, and I can think of any number of items that would be worse to dump in the sea, plastic never degrades and acumulates in huge gyres filled with trash. This isn't limited just to marine animals either, since we have lost track of 99% of the plastic in the ocean. It's likely that fish are eating it, but we really don't know where it's all ending up.

So what can you do about it? First of all, stop using so much plastic. Drink cups, plastic bags, cut down on anything that has an eco-friendly reusable alternative. Of course, there are plenty of plastics that you can't avoid, so recycle whenever you can. Check your local municipality's recycling policy to learn what kinds of plastic and cardboard they do and do not accept. It's just as important (and complicated!) to not recycle things that can't be processed properly. And, if you live near a shoreline, volunteer to help clean it up! Who knows, you might even find some LEGO.

- Source: BBC, via Gizmodo

New posts incoming

It's been a really long time since I last wrote here. Frankly, I wasn't sure I would ever return to it. For a couple reasons, I'm going to try and squeeze in some posts again. First, I feel really bad because my life got very busy just after I received a pen that I promised the designer I would review. I'd better do that! Second, I have some writing projects to do for work, and nothing beats writers block like writing some fun stuff to warm up.
Some things on my to-do list:

  • The aforementioned belated marker review
  • An unhealthy backlog of pen and LEGO set reviews
  • My new DIY underwater LEGO project
  • Something about Apple I suppose. I'm not as excited about tech as I used to be, possibly because I have a perfect computer, snappy iPad, and a clear upgrade path to a new phone in the fall. I rarely install new apps, because my current ones work fine. I'm playing many of the same games as I was two years ago. I have no idea why – maybe the rumored iWatch will stir me up a little. It's not that I don't still like tech, but I'm totally satisfied with what I have and see no reason to change.
  • A new name for the site. When I got the domain I didn't know that LEGO frowns on unrelated websites using their name. Plus, the name limits what I can write here. I'm open to suggestions.
  • Science. I'd like to write about my actual job sometimes, but there's that name problem again.

 

2013 builds in review

Now's the time when many LEGO builders post compilations of their work over the last year. I like to take this opportunity to catch up on builds I might have missed earlier. (And as my activity level here suggests, I've missed a lot! My own compilation would be blank – changing that is a 2014 resolution!)

Here's a list of the collages I've found in the order I discovered them. I'm always looking for more great builders to follow, so don't hesitate to suggest people I've missed!

Shannon Sproule

Shannon Sproule

Red Spacecat

Red Spacecat

Chris McVeigh (powerpig)

Chris McVeigh (powerpig)

Chris McVeigh (powerpig)

Chris McVeigh (powerpig)

Cyrille

Cyrille

LEGO DOU Moko

LEGO DOU Moko

Jacob Unterreiner (4estFeller)

Jacob Unterreiner (4estFeller)

Lego Junkie

Lego Junkie

Arjan Oude Kotte (Konajra)

Arjan Oude Kotte (Konajra)

Mihai Marius Mihu

Mihai Marius Mihu

Pascal (pasukaru76)

Pascal (pasukaru76)

Nick V (Brickthing)

Nick V (Brickthing)

Jon Hall

Jon Hall

legorobo:waka

legorobo:waka

Albert (Rebla)

Albert (Rebla)

Andy Baumgart (D-Town Cracka)

Andy Baumgart (D-Town Cracka)

Mark of Falworth

Mark of Falworth

Iain Heath (Ochre Jelly)

Iain Heath (Ochre Jelly)

Ordo

Ordo

Pēteris Sproģis

Pēteris Sproģis

Greyson B. (Louie le Brickvalier)

Greyson B. (Louie le Brickvalier)

Simon Schweyer

Simon Schweyer

Happy New Year!

The ideal pen

(Maybe this is becoming a pen blog? Who knows!)

Render K pen.jpg

A year ago I purchased a Render K from Karas Kustoms based on the recommendation of Brad Dowdy. I was nervous about buying such an expensive pen from a small local business and worried I wouldn't like the tiny Japanese ink cartridges.

Looking back now, my apprehension was foolish. The Render K quickly became my daily pen, accompanying me constantly in my back pocket. I rely on it for everything: notes, calculations, doodles, and daily to-do lists. Not once have I ever been disappointed; in fact, it's surpassed all expectations.

Render K pen cap.jpg

The first thing that struck me when I got this pen was its appearance. As shallow as it sounds, I just can't stand to use an ugly pen. The Render K fills that requirement with a striking yet timeless design. I get comments about it all the time, but it doesn't grab attention with overwrought design. Mine is a deep shimmering blue, accented with raw aluminum where the cap threads have worn slightly over time. This is the essence of what a pen should be.

A good pen needs proper heft and balance. Too many beautiful pens feel top heavy or cramp my hand after a few minutes. Not so with the Render K. My hand simply loves how it balances precisely between my thumb and forefinger, and the lightweight aluminum lets me scribble for hours without fatigue. The cap does not post on the barrel, but it isn't necessary. The barrel is just long enough without it. I have the aluminum model, and Karas Kustoms also makes a brass version. This is heavier, but I have heard it is still comfortable.

Render K pen perspective.jpg

I am not kind to my everyday carry pens, so they must be durable. My old Fisher Space Pen accumulated numerous dents, scratches, and chips before it finally escaped out of my pocket. Even after a year in stony, unforgiving Arizona, I count only a couple dents and chips in the Render K. I've dropped it on stone, concrete, and too many floors to count. There's even a few nicks worn into the barrel by my wedding ring. Not only does the pen tolerate this abuse with minimal damage, but it actually looks better a little scuffed up. This is not a fragile pen, and it's designed to age with style.

The Render K is also remarkably versatile. It accepts whatever type of refill I need, whether that's a Signo DX for text, a Hi-Tec-C for equations, or a pressurized Fisher ballpoint for fieldwork. The variety lets me have a little fun, taking notes in brown or green but switching in a more professional color at a moment's notice. There's very little this pen can't handle, and the rest is taken care of by the other fine Karas Kustoms pens. The Bolt, Retrakt, and upcoming fountain pen round out any collection with the same reliable quality.

The Render K so impressed me that I gave one to each groomsman at my wedding. Now it's filling the lab notebooks and design portfolios of my closest friends, no doubt performing just as well for them as it does for me. Check out the Karas Kustoms store and try it for yourself!

Evan Brus and legomac.net hold no copyright over the LEGO or Mac brands, and are not affiliated with the LEGO Group or Apple.