Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sometimes November Isn't All Bad


Case in point - this photo. 
When else in the year would you get such an atmospheric shot? March? Methinks not. August? Ha! Look at that silhouette against that positively leaden sky. Wouldn't get that lowering sky anywhere else but November.

 Quick! Spot the Pileated Woodpecker against those sodden clouds.

And look - a lost pea sprouting away under the protective plastic on the soil-less medium of my potting bench. In April such sprouting is to be expected; this time of year, given the winds, rain, and cold, it's a minor miracle.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November Cometh

 Technically November has been here 18 days already, zipping along on waves of mist and birthdays and awards banquets and other busyness, which is probably why I've just noticed the cold weather and its impact on the garden. This is what started it all off for me (see Very Atmospheric Photograph above): the swirling mists of early morning out the kitchen window. It's like waking up in a well-behaved horror movie - beautiful but unnerving.
 The garden looks different: the cold nights have suddenly stopped it in its tracks. Gone is the leafy green-ness of late late summer, with the odd ripe scarlet runner bean, the late summer strawberries, and the last clusters of raspberries. Now everything looks frozen in an Uh Oh! position.

And these leaves —
Have all fallen away. Naked trees ensue.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Beginnings & Endings

Here I am feeling all nostalgic about the end of summer and hot weather and here are these little pieces of fungi, popping out of the ground and no doubt feeling all thrilled with themselves. All the other plants are dying by the wayside, drawing themselves in for the winter, and here we have a positive metropolis of little fungi, burgeoning. Yes, burgeoning. I could have said fecund, too, but I think burgeoning is more to my liking right now.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dear Mr. LEGO Executive,

At last count we had in the neighbourhood of 7 bazillion pieces of your product in our house. That's probably because I have three kids, and all three of those kids have gone through phases of liking LEGO, adoring LEGO, reading books on LEGO, begging reluctant relatives for yet more of it, building entire LEGO villages in their bedrooms, and wishing they lived in a LEGO house. (I blame James May for the last) Anyhow, their confusion between WANTS and NEEDS have resulted in our house being filled, nay, jammed with your product. So, count me in as an enthusiastic admirer and supporter of the LEGO oeuvre.

But that's not why I am writing to you. Today I am interested in addressing an article I happened across, one that stated that your company's net profits were up 36% this year. That sales of the new "Friends" line have been, to quote chief executive Joergen Vig Knudstorp, "astonishing."

Well, Mr. Knudstorp, I can tell you why your profits are up: most of your best products are TOO EXPENSIVE. Yes, I realize there are smaller, cheaper kits. We've bought a number of them. But they have a paltry piece count, often fall apart when played with, and are exceedingly small when built. The new Star Wars LEGO Advent calendar is a case in point: $10 more than the City Advent calendar yet with half the interest level. This, I dare say, is why sales of the new Friends line have been "astonishing": they contain new colours, new and rare pieces, AND they are generally priced under $30. I'm resisting saying it's only a matter of time... oh what the heck, let's just get it out there: It's only a matter of time before the Friends line goes the way of the Creator/City line and prices most of its best kits over $130.

I have to say, I'm surprised you didn't give any credit to the Minifigure series (and accompanying display cases) when you were waxing eloquent about your new bottom line. It must be raking in the bucks, given that my kids probably account for at least 1% of the sales figures in Canada. It's the one new series I heartily approve of: cheap, interesting, full of rare pieces (pies! green fish! Santa Claus! bats! trophies!).

I don't know about your relatives, Mr. Knudstorp, but mine aren't the sort who can stomach paying $80 or more for a box of coloured plastic. Convincing them of LEGO's amazingness is something we've worked hard on over the years, but in the end we're still faced with the simple and rather distressing fact that a large plastic house, no matter how wonderful or intricate or technical, costs $200. We've had years where I've managed to get a few relatives in on one gift, or bought used LEGO, or had the kids chip in over and above what I'm willing to pay for a gift, but the whole concept of having to go to such lengths to get ONE present for ONE kid without giving ME palpitations is wearing on me. For the purposes of brevity I won't mention how hard it is to buy LEGO for my kids' friends' birthday parties without resembling the titular character from a Dickens story but I dare you to try spending under $15 on LEGO without looking (or feeling) cheap.

So there you have it. I love your products. My kids love your products. We love how geeky your designers' videos are; one of us even wants to be a LEGO designer when he grows up. That same kid has six years of magazines in his memory banks and can quotes huge swathes of price, piece count, and more from them to prove it. We do not love how the Canadian LEGO magazine is always at least 20 pages lighter than its American cousin but on the other hand we love Brickjournal so much that we're willing to pay exorbitant shipping costs to get it into the wilderness that is Canada, something we're unable to do with the LEGO magazine. But you, Mr LEGO Executive, are starting to look like your bottom line is more important than your fan base. And for that I do not love you.

yours very sincerely,


Friday, November 2, 2012

Random Happenings of the Day

 Overheard in passing:

"What do you like best about being a Toa? Do you do it for the money, the fun, or just because you like saving people's lives?"

                                                                                    — FDPG, interviewing Dominic

Found poem on my desk:

My Mum
a poem by Dominic

Her eyes are so shiny
And she's never whiny
Her hair flows down
Like a gold comet in the sun
And that's what I have to say about Mum