Accidia occidere

Follow the adventures of a lone nerd as he fights a losing battle against Apathy.

Left without translation. Also; lego!

This post is a bit of a rant, so don’t read it expecting amazing epiphanies or anything. I’m just venting stuff.

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Yesterday I reclaimed four boxes of my childhood legos, I brought them to my apartment from my mothers house and than sat up way later than I should head playing, cross-legged on the floor. Just like old times.  Then I wanted to tell my friends of this wonderful feeling, of finding pieces old contraptions, putting them together and having all the memories flood in. In my head a dialogue started (like always) as I ran through what would be said, and this is a great example because it represents the opposite of the problem that’s bugging me today; in the internal dialogue I didn’t really need to explain because me and my friends are so similar. They all have their own fond memories of lego and they would all understand my feelings perfectly. I could probably say something like “Found my old legos last night, I rebuilt my old starship. ’twas awesome.” and we would both go to that place and be in sync. That’s great, and I wish all communication could be like that.

Now for the next situation.

I try to explain to a female friend a feeling that’s mainly emergent in males; machismo. I am not talking about the stereotypical overcompensating machismo here, but the basic guy thing with testosterone and whatnot, making us like to wrestle, thump our chests and flex our muscles. I am trying to explain it from my point of view; how it feels and what happens in my mind and fantasy when I am in that state.

This seems to be pretty much impossible. In vain I search for words, I stutter slightly and find countless dead ends trying to find something to compare to. The reason is there is no common ground on the subject; she obviously doesn’t have and tendencies towards machismo and she cannot imagine what it is to be afflicted. After several minutes of babbling I have successfully conveyed the gist of it, but no matter how much I try, I cannot find any way to make her understand the feeling. You see, I cannot even explain here the how it was to be in this tight spot-  although once again I don’t need too, because you’ve all been there at some point.

I’m gonna get back to those legos, because they haunt me.

So, yeah. Lego. Yesterday I was picking around in my collection of lego, mainly consisting of technics and regular, and I figured out why lego is so attractive to me even at this age; It’s Simple!  You see, I work with computers. I develop embedded OS configuration which means that I spend a lot brainpower and emotional energy (as frustration) in pursuit of various elusive errors to which there is really no end. Mostly I can do nothing but find out how to cure the symptoms of a bug and accept that I cannot do anything about the source. A lot of people would now tell me “No prob, just work in an  opensource OS like linux!” and that’s advice I guess. However in the end I am one person, and as such I am not capable of maintaining multiple linux configurations over multiple platforms with various apps and in various environments. The point is that in this I can never achieve perfection. Especially seeing as this is actually just part of my job; I am also a service technician and general technical support. To put things in perspective I can mention that building a configuration of windows embedded standard 2009 means that I first have to pick out a few thousand components out of appr. 20 000. I’m not gonna go into detail with the following 9 or so steps, but let’s just say that there are countless things that could go wrong, and often there is not even a point to trying to find out why, because you cannot solve it on your end.

But with lego it’s all so simple. I can stimulate whatever parts of my brain may be involved in building makeshift strange jumping machines (for example) out of plastic pieces and an electrical engine without having to ever get to the point where it’s impossible to solve, and because of someone else’s mistake. If I run into troubles I can mostly just look hard at my piece and after a couple of seconds I’ll see that “Of course! That cog right there isn’t secured and because of the slanted teeth it’ll slide when I exert pressure!”, and sometimes its just “Whoops, missed a block…”. All the problems are a result of my own failings, and solving them means restoring balance to my creation.

And then you get to the really cool part. when I was really small, building lego took some focus. I was fully there as I worked, and when I later learned to do it so well that no real effort was needed I upgraded to more advanced lego until I eventually got bored. What happened towards the end of my interest was that the lego lost it’s status of “primary interest” and became secondary, meaning something I did when there was nothing else to do. These day’s it’s still my secondary, but it actually let’s me process my primary interests as I do it. I’ll be building lego and meanwhile I’ll be thinking through stuff I learned today about CE6, or about nutrition, or about languages or maybe about social patterns. It’s a wonderful distraction. And a welcome one as well seeing as it wasn’t good to constantly disassemble and reassemble the various gadgets around my apartment; eventually you break something. This happened with my gaming interests as well, I just to have computer as a primary interest, but then I got kinda good and finding challenges became boring in the end. After having gamed regularly for a few months without once feeling that rush you get when you outdo yourself, I stopped. A few months later I started again, but merely as something on the side; complementing social gatherings, or something to do when my brain is too abuzz to do any actual studying..

Anyways, yeah. Loud noises!

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