Matter, Energy, and Life of Michael A. Castello.

Bricks, Windows, and Sam I Am


Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, president and CEO of the LEGO Company; William Gates, founder of the Microsoft Windows operating system; and Theodor Seuss Geisel, author-illustrator of over forty children’s books. While at first blush these three men may appear entirely unrelated, they do share one common aspect. Each has had a great influence on my life, providing a means for me to incorporate valuable traits into my developing character. Kristiansen, Gates, and Geisel helped to shape me into the person I have become by respectively opening to me the worlds of creativity, problem solving, and literature.

Kjeld Kristiansen’s supervision of the LEGO Company helped bring me my first Lego set at the age of four. I excitedly received the small assortment of bricks and wheels as a present for my fourth birthday, while traveling in Costa Rica to view a solar eclipse. Perhaps the rare astronomical phenomenon was a harbinger of things to come, because from that point on, Lego found a permanent place in my life. Tearing open brightly colored cardboard boxes, carefully following the instructions to complete each building step, and the mounting anticipation as the model progressed toward completion are inseparable parts of my experience. As I grew older, I moved beyond the included instructions to build my own unique creations, simultaneously gaining the skills I would need to put my imagination to a tangible use. At the age of seven, my first steps in this direction were rewarded when Kristiansen sponsored a national Lego building contest. My original entry was awarded second place! The formidable Lego pirate schooner, shipped as a prize, was prominently displayed in my room along with the framed certificate of achievement.

Today I am able to put my creativity, cultured and influenced by Kristiansen’s Lego, to use in other, practical ways such as topic ideas for composition papers. Creativity skills have also proved valuable in graphic design, where I find interesting ways to work with and display pictures, as well as in studio art where I work with pastels to paint landscapes. Thanks to Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen’s management of the LEGO Company, I was provided with unique products that allowed me to use and develop my creativity, beginning at a young age and continuing into the present.

Providing a balance to my creativity is my analytical problem-solving ability, for which I have the influence of William Gates to thank. In the early days of home computing, my dad had a laptop running one of Gates’ first operating systems, Windows 3.1. While Dad was busy, I would take advantage of the time to experiment with the operation of his computer. Struggling with the familiar error message, “Bad command or file name,” Gates’ influence through his software taught me valuable analytical expertise. Soon, I was showing off simple games I had discovered, writing messages in Notepad, and frantically typing passwords to connect to the mysterious “Internet.” Computers continued to change and improve, prompting Gates to release new versions of Windows, complete with their own challenges I would need to overcome. That aptitude for figuring out software through thought and experimentation enabled me to teach myself how to operate advanced software and perform complicated computing manipulations.  

In turn, the experience I had gained translated into many other areas, such as the science projects I have been able to complete without excessive difficulty. Additionally, the capability to work through problems has given me the means to assist others when something unexpected occurs, even with something as simple as jumpstarting a car or dealing with a power outage. Thanks to Gates and his early operating systems, my elementary problem solving skills were nurtured and are now bearing fruit to make me a capable geek.

Known to many by his pen name, “Dr. Seuss,” Theodor Seuss Geisel has greatly influenced my life by introducing me to literature with his comically illustrated children’s books. As a four year-old, during a seemingly interminable wait at a doctor’s office, I happened across Green Eggs and Ham. In a few moments, the once-silent room filled with the harsh, unnatural sounds of a boy reading for the first time. The refrain, “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am,” quickly led to Hardy Boys and Tom Sawyer; Geisel opened the world to me without my having to leave the sofa. From those early days, I have been an avid reader who can absorb valuable information and principles from the written word. The early introduction to reading supplied me with a wealth of experience for the future, when I would tackle monumental masterworks such as War and Peace, Ivanhoe, and Moby Dick. In school, having read and comprehended books paved the way for gathering and understanding important information from textbooks and refined my memory to recall that information when it was needed again.

Through my knowledge gained by reading, I have a broader understanding not only of the external workings of world, but also the internal workings of human psychology. This is evident as I follow the news in weekly publications, sorting out actual events from a journalist’s personal bias, and when I determine the “why” behind the actions of both other people and myself. The world of literature that began with Geisel now functions as an ever-expanding resource integrated into my present and future life.

The efforts of Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, William Gates, and Theodor Seuss Geisel set in motion experiences that would influence my development. Through them, I was given many Lego Company products to enjoy, the operating systems driving my first exposure to computers, and the humorously illustrated easy reader that became my first book. Encouraging my creativity, problem solving, and literature appreciation skills, the aptitude I gained in these areas due to the influences of these three men has crafted me into the individual I am today.

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