I Ruined My Life in the Nicest Way

Posted by aBethke on Tuesday Oct 22, 2013 Under Secret Projects


On august 21st I got engaged to an absolutely wonderful lady that I’ve known for about half of my life at this point. This completed four months of scheming, secrecy and preparation. For my engagement I wanted to do something special and multifaceted and so I set for myself a quest. Herein you will find the tale of my deeds, the trials I faced, the silly things I did to win my love and the details of how I got engaged with a puzzle made inspired by Hellraiser, made from Lego and a speech starting with the perfection quote from Fight Club

For my quest I wanted to create a series of challenges to overcome that were either an extension of myself or my lady. As a martial arts enthusiast and practitioner I’ve always had an appreciation for stealth and secrecy so the first component of my challenge was to keep it on lockdown. Normally for a secret of this nature I’d have a really hard time keeping it but that was the exact requirement I set for myself. For four months I made my other preparations in almost complete secrecy until everything was ready.

For the second requirement I wanted to do something a bit challenging that extended from my passion to design and create things. I also wanted to incorporate something game related since I spend most of my time creating and even occasionally playing games. After some consideration I decided to design and build a puzzle box. As I was doing research on various styles I came upon the idea to build it out of Lego, which at the time seemed like a massive time saver but due to my life as a catastrophe magnet took a bit longer than planned. In the end I spent 34 hours designing and 4 hours building an approximately 1000 piece, 7 step puzzle box. Friend and fellow Bento Miso member Robby Duguay was kind enough to donate a not insignificant amount of his time and talent to video tape and edit the footage of me building the puzzle box.

v1 final box


Longer with commentary

The final piece of my devious scheming was an abstract concept of epicness. I wanted to do something grandiose with a bit of showmanship. I thought I had fulfilled this with the rest of the plan however in hindsight I can see that the universe was only too happy to provide me with some additional challenges which I’ll speak about later. In fact there were several unplanned challenges that came up that on which I will elaborate.

Once everything was in place the plan was to light some candles on the balcony, bring K out there, say my partially prepared speech and then present the puzzle box. This part of the plan actually went as it was supposed to and K was a good sport about figuring out the puzzle box on her own. I have to admit I had gotten a little worried earlier in the day when as I was finishing up the puzzle box Damian asked the question “does she like puzzles” and I was not able to say yes with complete confidence.

The Story of the Ring
The ring I proposed with is a third generation family heirloom which was originally a gift of appreciation given to my great aunt for the extended care she gave to an ailing friend. Before my great aunt died she gave the ring to my grandma. After my dad proposed to my mom, my grandma gave the ring to him to give to my mom as an engagement ring. When my dad and mom got divorced, they put the ring away for safe-keeping for just such an event as my engagement.

We were at the DMG Mother, May I? game jam, taking a lunch break and I casually mentioned to my mom, amongst various other topics, that I was lamenting trying to save up for a ring. Merely noting the desire and saying nothing at the time, my mom returned the final day of the game jam and pulled me into one of the meeting rooms. At the time I thought she simply wanted to discuss the exciting new art direction we were persuing for our game Brother Nature but much to my surprise she produced the ring and offered it to me to give it K. Completely unprepared for such a thing at the time my reaction was something close to “shit just got really real”. With that I began my scheming.

Lego > Canada Post
This is a really long and painful story the short version of which is that Lego DESTROYS the hopes and dreams of Canada Post at least when it comes to taking care of screw ups and customers. Lego shipped my package, Canada Post damaged it, held it without informing me and never once returned any of my phone calls regarding my case for at least 2 weeks before my package finally showed up. In the meantime Lego had reshipped my entire order at no additional cost and threw in a $25 gift certificate just for good measure. When asked what I do if I end up with both orders? They said keep it. That’s class right there. Canada Post i condemn you to the blackest hells of your own customer service and you should learn something from Lego.

Puzzle Box Redesign
So if the whole delivery nightmare hadn’t been stressful enough there were two hiccups during the actual construction of the puzzle box. The first was simply that a small number of pieces weren’t shipped with the order so I was missing some. Luckily I had ordered spare parts of each type and was able to salvage it by replacing some colours and modifying the visual design of the outer shell. The second issue was midway through building the puzzle I realized I had created a set of Lego pieces that didn’t physically work outside of the 3d modelling tool in terms of sliding locks for the overall puzzle. Originally it was a 9 step box but with some adjustments I was able to fix the design at the cost of 2 sliding pieces. All things considered the damage could have been a lot worse.

Puzzle Box v1

Fight Club quote
A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 3

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