aesthetics and shit

This past May we graduated from a public university with two liberal arts degrees, dear readers. Now that we have settled into a part-time job that is completely unrelated to our fields of study and requires few of the skills that we mastered in college, we have a lot of time to think about the important things in life while we try to figure out why the fuck we put ourselves through six years of school and what we'll do now. One thought that pops up frequently is related to Legos, which is why we are blagging about it. One of our other hobbies is riding bicycles. There are many ways to ride a bicycle and equally many ways to behave when doing so. Some bicyclists like to ride on roads, others like to ride on mountain bike trails. Some of the latter prefer to simply ride winding dirt paths through the woods while others prefer technical trails that challenge one's "skills". Some who prefer technical trails argue over the types of tires and number of chain rings that one should use, the frame/component materials and safety gear that one should have, and the ways that trails should be designed. Many riders become emotionally attached to their preferences and it is difficult for people new to the hobby to discover what works for their needs.

In the Lego train circles there are divides among groups about how wide one should build a train out of Lego. With the exception of Emerald Night (there are probably others, we don't care enough to find them) all official Lego train sets were six wide. The entire system (i.e. train specific parts like doors, windscreens and curved track) was designed around a six stud wide platform, which some Lego builders cite as a reason to build six wide. Other builders point to the width of the straight train tracks (that is, the track gauge)as a reason to build wider (e.g. 8 studs wide) trains. Unless your model is a as caricatured as a minifig, any argument that cites the size of minifigs as a source of scale is invalid. Seven wide trains are a common compromise, but are far less popular than six and eight wide trains.

When we joined our Lego train club we started to build trains and were faced with a decision on how wide we should build our trains. Before we joined, other members were already building six wide trains, so the club's layout was scaled and designed for six wide trains. Regretfully being the child of middle-middle-class adult humans, our parents could not afford to buy us enough parts to make our own layout at whatever scale we wished, so we chose to spend our lunch money on Lego parts to build six wide trains that fit our club's existing standards. The fact that a six wide train requires fewer parts and are thus, on average cheaper, encouraged this decision. Being a lonely, asocial teenager, the environment of our Lego train club and the existing "feud" between AHOLs gave us a movement to cling to and connections to make. We memorized all the advantages of six wide trains and convinced ourselves that we were better a better builder for choosing the "right" side. We felt that we mattered and belonged to something, even if that something was a bunch of adults making model trains out of a child's building toy and talking to each other on the internet.

Over time we invested a lot of time and money building a collection of six wide trains. Our decision to build six wide trains was rather arbitrary - neither good nor bad. As we reflect on it, that decision dictated the rest of what we did in our hobby. As evident from the lack of new my own creations in our flickr photostream and the lack of blag poasts, our interests are shifting away from Legos, which gives us a good opportunity to reflect on how Legos will play a role in our future. One thing that we have reflected on a lot lately is what it means for something pertaining to Lego to be "good" to us and why those things matter to us. Why did we develop the preferences that we did? Our AHOL friends certainly help us create our subdivisions within the hobby and perpetuate our values but, overtime, the reasons why we made such decisions become unclear. Why are brown stampunk my own creations so gaudy? How come it's bad to just dump a bunch of blueish parts on the ground and call it "water"? Obviously we think that we are "right", but why? Do our opinions matter? Do you notice us? Are we pretty too? I just want pretty people to tell me that they notice me.

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