Another Desk...

Pop quiz: which of the following statements of silliness are true?
  1. I built a full-sized desk out of over 20,000 LEGO bricks for someone,
  2. I delivered the desk to the client by driving from Auburn, Alabama to Oakland, California in three days' time,
  3. A day later I turned around and drove back to Auburn, completing a 5000 mile road trip in seven days, or
  4. All of the above.

No doubt, you realize the answer is "D". Maybe a bit more explanation is in order.

At the very end of 2021 the CEO of a start-up company contacted me and asked me if I could build a desk out of LEGO bricks for one of his employees. See, it turns out that he knew I had actually already done this before. One of his colleagues knew the person who received the first LEGO desk that I built way back in 2000. The original client pointed him in my direction and now I was asked if I would build a second one for the V.P. of Engineering of this other company.

I was actually a bit reluctant at first; I have not been building LEGO projects for years now, and the thought of acquiring all of those pieces and worrying about material costs and such was not super appealing to me.

But, offer me enough money and I can be game for just about anything (it also helped when I realized that I could do most of the building in the mornings each day before I had to teach my Pre-Calculus classes at Auburn University... which is my real job these days).

Long story short: I did it.

Then we had to figure out how to get it to the client's offices in Oakland. The original desk, two decades earlier, I had shipped as one glued structure to Seattle, and it survived the shipment... barely. This second desk, however, was not glued (there was no way I was going to glue another desk, piece by piece... instead, I used larger LEGO pieces to make it sturdier, but I still did not want to entrust shipping a non-glued sculpture to FedEx, UPS, or whomever).

I had finished this new desk by March of 2022 (to the right are some pictures of the final desk -- the bottommost photograph was taken in the clients office in Oakland), and we determined the only way to safely get it across the country was for me to deliver it myself.

I had built the desk in modular sections this time (not as a single piece of furniture), so I was able to squeeze into my car... barely.

Once my teaching responsibilities were done for the Spring semester, it was time to take a road trip. It had probably been a decade since I'd driven across the United States, and I can't say I was looking forward to doing it again, especially with my fingers crossed and my breath held the whole way... praying that no misfortune befell me or the 20,000 LEGO pieces crammed into my vehicle. Fortunately I did not have to pay for gas on the trip (all travel, lodging, and delivery expenses were covered by the client, as we had initially negotiated).

Three twelve hour days of driving later (I took the shortest route via I-40, stopping in Oklahoma City and Flagstaff) I was in the Bay Area.

The installation of the desk went smoothly the next day, and I spent one more night in California (thanks to Mark for hosting me for a couple of nights in Los Gatos). Then, I turned around and drove back in three days.

This is not a commute I would recommend to anyone.

I did take a few videos with a crappy digital camera during this whole endeavor, so if you want to see some of the "highlights" (and I use that term very generously here) of the building and traveling, check out the videos below. I ramble on about some of the challenges and changes I faced, comparing this build to the first one I did all those years ago. However, if you are hoping to see a grand finale where the desk is given to the client on-site, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. I did not take a video of that event. Many of the employees at the company did capture the moment, and if I can get links to their videos, I will include them in the playlist below.

The most amazing thing to me about all of this is not the basic building and traveling involved (anyone who has known me at all well knows that I will take on unusual projects, and I have certainly done more than my share of long drives). No, the only thing that gave me pause was when I realized that there had been almost 23 years in between the two LEGO desk projects. I had actually still been in my twenties when I'd built the first one. And, now, I'd done the second when I was in my fifties.

Here are a couple of pictures in juxtaposition for comparison:

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