I suppose before I jump into talking about fun things like MOCs, I should get the important stuff out of the way. School has not been going well for me. I'm in my second semester studying Industrial Design, but my classes have really been a huge source of anxiety, which has at times been crippling for me. I have a couple weeks left here in Boston, but after that I'm going to take a semester off to get some counseling and therapy, perhaps try and get a job, and take time to re-evaluate my life goals, which may not be attainable through the path I'm currently on even if I can get my emotions in check.
Now, I've gotten slight relief from various opportunities to visit with family and friends. As I announced in my last entry, I went to Cloudsdale Congress over Spring Break, and it was a phenomenal experience. I definitely plan to attend other My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan conventions in the future, because it was really fun and eye-opening (giving me the chance to interact with dozens of other bronies as well as to explore areas of the fandom I hadn't yet indulged in, like the fan music). I roomed with some bronies from my hometown, and I look forward to attending some meetups with them over the summer -- they're very fun people!
After the convention I had some time to burn before my mom could pick me up and take me home, so I visited the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. On the way there, I happened to be on the subway with some of the folks from the fan project Double Rainboom, including PKEmi, who voiced Rainbow Dash (A bit of warning, I still haven't seen Double Rainboom, since I'm going to a meetup in Boston to see it tomorrow, so don't spoil it in the comments). We all had a great conversation, and Emi and I have managed to connect via social networks since then, which is great. Always nice to make a lasting connection at an event like this.
I spent just a couple days at home before I had to go down to North Carolina to visit my Nana, who has been in the hospital for a few weeks after having a fall. It was good to visit her, even though I'm worried about her. Then I took a plane from New Bern to Hartford, where my uncle from Connecticut picked me up to stay with him for a few days. My aunt and uncle have a fifteen-month-old baby who's a joy to spend time with, and it was great to spend the next couple days there before getting on the bus to get back to school.
Since then I spent last weekend with my aunt and uncle again to celebrate my birthday (March 29) and Easter, and I got to see them and my baby cousin once more just last night when my aunt came up to Boston for a conference. It's so wonderful watching my baby cousin grow up and learn to explore the world, and I hope even over the summer when I'm not as close by I can still find time to visit them.
Now, as far as LEGO is concerned, I've mostly been working with LEGO Digital Designer lately, since that had a considerable update recently. Most notably, it includes over 600 new decorations, including almost every decoration from Collectible Minifigures series 1-8! However, as is often the case, these were not mapped to the parts that use them in the software's code, meaning that I had to edit them into LXFML files myself. You can download my LXF of Minifigures Series 1-9 here. Note that parts from Series 1-8 which could not be decorated correctly are colored 294 Phosphorescent Green to differentiate them, and that some decoration surfaces like the Small Clown's hat and all decorated minifigure arms distort the decorations placed on them.
Additionally, I recently got some major progress reverse-engineering the stunning Hero Factory MOC by Christoffer Raundahl which I mentioned in this entry. You can see my results here:
Errors include six parts left off of the arms (two shells due to an illegal connection and four hoses due to being too fiddly and frustrating to connect correctly), four substitutions (the custom head, the square shell detail elements on the heels, and the speaker shell detail element on the chest), four parts within the torso build not connected correctly (the shoulder suspension beams, which were giving me a lot of grief, and the hoses that connect the legs to the torso), and finally some parts potentially missing from the back, including whatever parts are meant to connect the wings to the back -- sadly, I do not have any pics of the back of this MOC.
The final model would probably contain around 225 pieces and cost $50-60 as a retail model. I have managed to build a considerable portion of this model (the torso, one leg, and one upper arm) in real life to ensure that fiddly parts like the arm and leg suspension work correctly, and it's just as brilliant in its design as I imagined. It has, among other things, revealed to me just how narrow-minded I have been in envisioning uses for the 3M double ball cup (98565) introduced in Stormer XL, since despite its few connection points this piece is an invaluable structural element. Truly I would love to see this model, or a similar model derived from its design, as an official set.
Anyway, that's enough rambling for today. Overall, I'm doing my best to maintain a positive outlook and take each week one day at a time. It's been a bit rough but I'm confident that once I'm back home I will have plenty of time to work on putting myself back together and finding a path I'm willing to pursue.