So Many Cords and Cables

The modern world is an amazing place.  We can do so much more than the generation before.  The only thing is that all of this needs electricity.  No, this isn’t a rant against nuclear power (for rants please see my other blog “The Octagonal Peg” located in the blogs I follow section located at the lower right).  Instead, I just want to lament the need for so many cords and cables.  So, so many cords and cables.

As a modern hobbyist, I have a ton of cords, a ton.  I’ve got adaptors for power for computers, DVD players, video games, tools, soldering irons, battery chargers, air compressors, and train power.  That isn’t really bad, because everyone has cords.  The problem is that I have to also include the staggering amount of USB cords I have.

USB stands for universal serial bus.  Clever acronym, but I have to take issue with the word universal.  Indeed, from the computer connection, it is universal.  Everyone I have fits into the USB slot in my computer.  The problem is, though, every single one of them has a different end that fits into the device.  So, for every modern, cool, hi-tech piece of equipment I have, I have another USB cable.  Perhaps I should be thankful that they seem to only come in two colours (white and black, though I suspect there are some grey ones out there) but it does make them difficult to distinguish when I am in a hurry.  I don’t want to over dramatize the dilemma, but I think frustration is a word that best categorizes it.

Someday, everything will be wireless.  A lot of things already are.  I should just sit back, complain less, and await this day.  Not really my style, though.  Until that day, as I drown in a sea of cords, cables, and other wires, as I occasionally trip over them, I will voice my concerns.

Camping: The Lost Art

My tent was just like this

I haven’t been camping in more than fifteen years.  I find that funny because that was something I used to look forward to every summer.  That’s only partially true.  Camping fever started around the May long weekend (what we in Canada refer to as May 24, or Victoria Day).  It was rarely the perfect weather, but you could usually plan to spend some days outdoors.

Though I haven’t been camping I have kept up with advances in camping technology.  Most of my friends have opted for hard top tent trailers (if they haven’t been able to afford a cottage, but nowadays who can?), propane stoves, space heaters, air compressors to blow up air mattresses, though more likely for beach balls, water wings and other inflatable water toys.  Heck, they even have full sinks.

It is a far cry from my days with a square tent with heavy aluminum poles (state of the art at the time) and guide strings.  I remember having to pump up both the stove and lantern before they could be used.  Washing dishes required a good size bucket and again, pumping that stove for hot water.

Though I sound bitter, I am probably just jealous.  Today’s tents go up in a flash, and I wouldn’t have to go into oxygen deficit to blow up an air mattress.  Heck, I could probably bring along a portable DVD player and watch a movie or two.

Among my circle, I must congratulate my younger brother and sister (as well as their spouses) for still being hardcore enough to hike kilometres through dense bush and portage between rivers and lakes and mosquito infested areas for that pristine, back to basics camping.  Though I wouldn’t do it, I respect them for keeping it real in every sense of the word.

As I look back on it, I probably gave up on the whole camping thing after one memorable trip in which every single one of us decided to bring hot dogs as our contribution to the communal meals.  I like hot dogs, but I am not sure they should be eaten every meal.

That’s pretty cool

On the subway the other day I saw someone reading a comic book on his iPad.  I can’t deny it, I felt incredibly jealous.  Not only do I not have an iPad, but I certainly do not have the app that lets you read comic books.  It seemed really cool.

Yes, technology lust had reared its sleek head.  I saw it, and I want to have it.  Funny how that works.  Watching a TV commercial about it wouldn’t have elicited the same response.  I seem to have some will power where TV is concerned.

Knowing that I really shouldn’t be investing in the iPad (I like how the word investing makes it seem more worthwhile)  I probably have to avoid the iStore with every fibre of my being.  It is definitely a trap.  Definitely a trap.  What a fantastic trap.

I guess there will be a day when all comics will be digital and won’t be released in paper form.  That might actually be okay–probably play havoc with the collector market, but what else is technology for.

With enough memory, I could probably load every comic book ever made into the iPad and carry them around with me all the time.  That would be cool.

Calvin and Hobbes

There is nothing that makes me more nostalgic, or take me back screaming to my younger days than Calvin and Hobbes.  There is no denying it, it was a fantastic comic strip, and it makes me laugh every time I open the book–and I do that a lot.

I am not sure if it was the theme of a boy and his tiger, or the time travelling, or the incredible daydreams….. but it struck a chord with me that has never stopped.  I love it now as much as I did the first day I read it.

It raises the hard what if question.  What if Bill Waterson hadn’t stopped when he did?  Would we still be laughing at the exploits that precocious boy and his rational, sceptical tiger?  I would like to believe that we would.  In that way the world would be a better place.

I still find a few comics worth reading.  Zits and Retail come to mind.  In recent months Dilbert has also come to have greater importance.  They are funny, and occasionally profound.  However, if I miss them, it doesn’t cause any fuss.

All I can say about Calvin and Hobbes is that profoundness along with humour were a given.  If I missed a day, (and this was pre-internet) I was crushed and recovery was a hard road.

I miss you Calvin and Hobbes.

Pay Attention Hollywood

Here are the poll resutls.  I wish more of you had voted, but that is out of my control.
I guess 3D movios aren’t the most popular thing in the world.  Nobody loved them without question and most people thought they weren’t worth the money.  I guess that is how things work.

The results were that:

           0% of the people loved them and thought they were worth every penny.
          60% of the people thought they weren’t worth the money.
          20% thought they were good for Holllywood Blockbusters only.
          20% thought that there are too many 3D movies out there.

All I can say is pay attention Hollywood.
 

A Day Out

the stuff I bought today….though I wasn’t going to buy anything.

Isn’t it amazing that when you go to a hobby shop, and have no intention of buying anything, you always come home with stuff.  I wish I could lie and say the stuff just followed me home, but that just wouldn’t be true.

Today I went to three different hobby shops.  Although I primarily went to look at train stuff, I managed to look at paint, car models, plane models, slot cars, magazines, science fiction models, tools, and lots of equipment.  All in all it was a good day.

If you need a day out, a trip to your local hobby shop would be a great idea.  You could go an just talk to people and share ideas on your hobby.  You don’t have to buy anything.  Really.  You don’t have to buy anything.  Of course, that is what I told myself before I left for the shops today.

Finally!!!

Finally.

6 months of saving up the money

One tense night of deciding

One moment of courage to make the decision

Relief when one package arrived

Anticipation for the final package

Disappointment when the package failed to arrive

Numerous emails to correct the problem

Frantic checking of the UPS number

7 weeks waiting in total

Finally it has all arrived

 

My N scale Scenic Ridge Layout kit is now in my possession.  I picked up the last overdue piece from the post office today.  It was quite the struggle to wait, but it is finally here.

I have already chronicled why I cam to buy this kit, and I have not wavered in that decision since I bravely completed the order form.  I am sad that what was supposed to be my vacation project has now become a weekend project, but that is just the way it has to be.

I will take time to write about my progress and include my pictures.  Hopefully you will enjoy it.

A Choice of Scales

As the jack of all hobbies I often find myself trying to spur others onto a hobby.  I have already related my efforts to get people to blog  and to find a hobby for my friend so as to keep him from other more dangerous hobbies.  Unfortunately my friend has not taken to blogging, and fortunately he hasn’t resorted to mind altering chemicals.  Neither of these things has deterred me from sticking my nose in and trying to raise interest in a hobby with a colleague of mine.

My colleague is a very good military modeller–prize winning in fact.  He is also far more disciplined than I–he actually completes most of the projects he starts.  We have been discussing his entry into the world of model trains.  Thanks to the internet he has done a lot of research and is pretty secure in his choice of era and subject matter.  My contribution has been mostly to act as a sounding board.  His only question is scale.

In Model trains there are several scales.  HO (as I have been told) is the most popular.  There are bigger trains: G, O and S and there are smaller scales.  These are N and Z.

My colleague is considering the two smallest scales.  He is fascinated by miniaturization and is currently leaning toward Z.  Of course he has never seen a Z scale train up close, let alone the buildings and landscape material.  We will probably have to travel to a couple of hobby shops (LHS–local hobby shop in the parlance of the model railroad crowd)  to get to see a good cross section of what is available.

When I started in trains I quickly gravitated toward N scale.  I had dreams of running 100 car freight trains all across my basement.  As unrealistic as that dream has shown itself to be, I can’t get that image out of my head.  Someday, probably when I join an N-track club, I will make that a reality.
something very Canadian

Choosing scales is a tough choice.  HO offers the biggest variety of equipment and accessories, and benefits from the volume of sales.  It’s biggest drawback is that it takes up a lot of room.  N which is not exactly half as big offers a slightly less wide variety but thanks to advanced manufacturing techniques doesn’t suffer from a lack of detail.

Z scale is the smallest, and perhaps hardest to find.  The biggest advantage of this is that you can pack a whole heck of a lot of railroad into a small space.  I have seen a lot of great creations involving tiny spaces and highly detailed Z scale layouts.  The biggest drawback is that there just isn’t as much stuff being produced in Z scale.  There aren’t walls of trains and building kits.  Sometimes there isn’t even a corner, just a small shelf or tiny display case.

I didn’t mention the difficulty you might encounter if your eyesight is not quite perfect–hoping of course that it was obvious.

the battery is to give you an idea of scale (AA)
Should you find yourself wanting to take up trains, get yourself to a hobby shop and see it up close before you go online and plunk down a lot of money.

I just thought that I would add some pictures of my collection of freight cars.  I haven’t included my Japanese trains, but someday (if people want that) I will put my pictures of them up on this blog.

Decals…..My Nemesis

I am not going to boast about my modeling skills–mostly because I can’t.  I am stuck in the intermediate phase and seemed destined to stay there forever.  On one of my current projects–Jacques Villeneuve’s Formula One car I had been making good progress until I met my nemesis.
My nemesis at car modeling that is…. my sink nemesis is this guy named Martin, and my bus seat nemesis doesn’t have a name, but he has sharp elbows that seem to stick me whenever he is texting someone…. whish is ALL THE TIME!  I seem to be digressing.
My nemesis in car modeling must be decals.  I have lots of good equipment. I have a good set of knives.  I have a steel ruler.  I have a really cool self healing cutting mat (not entirely sure what that is, but it sounds cool).  I’ve even got a full range of tweezers and some setting solution for the decals.  What I don’t have is patience for getting them on strait, judgement to know when to remove them from the water, and delicate fingers to stop them from ripping, folding or disintegrating.
I have, in the past, managed to get the decals on license plates, dashboards, air cleaner covers and manifolds.  As for this car, I have ruined a few, and now feel dejected.  I am not sure I want to finish this model, even though it started out with such good progress.
I wish I could blame the decals.  They seem very thin and fragile.  Maybe they are defective.  If I could comfort myself with that lie, I could probably tell myself the dozens of others that politicians and pseudo academics try to foist on me on a weekly basis.  Sadly, I cannot do that.  It is probably less about principles than practical honesty.
I had such high hopes for this car, but sadly, it may go back in the box to rest for a while.  A long while, if I can’t shake this funk and feeling of frustration.
I used to hate painting car bodies, but the airbrush has made that somewhat easier.  Of course, choosing the right colours and thinning the paint appropriately has also helped that, but I would rather thank the airbrush.  It is just simpler that way.
I used to hate taping walls and baseboards for painting, but the new tape (frog tape I think it is called–they must be competing with duct/duck tape.) has made that easier.
wiring up train tracks and lights used to be a pain, but that has been solved.
So basically, why can’t they make better decals for car models.
 
On a side note, as an ESL teacher, I am amused by the word decal.  Do you pronounce it /dee-kal/ or /deckle/ ?
these turned out relatively good

Dusting Incidents

As a modeller, car collector, stuff collector, train collector, and general hobbyist, I struggle with a way to display my stuff.  Sometimes it is because I have too much stuff to display.  Sometimes it because I can’t find the best way to showcase what I have.  Of course, sometimes it is because, besides myself, nobody really wants to see my stuff.
You might wonder why I need a display case anyway.  You have to realize that the biggest enemy of the hobbyist is dust.  Actually dust is the second biggest enemy.  In reality the biggest is the person doing the dusting.  Thousands of models, toys and collectibles are damaged and destroyed each year in dusting related incidents.  The only way to avoid it is to keep the stuff away from the dusting brush.  The best way to do that is to safely encase it is some display container. 

the dream
Certainly I would love a beautiful, French provincial oak display case that was more furniture than anything.  Sadly, the financial requirements for that go way beyond what I can afford.  Second best would probably be something from IKEA.  Though not as financially draining, it does require using an hex key.  Usually, I have to settle for something plastic.  It is functional, but classy it is not.

the reality
There are quite a few things I would like to put in display cases.  I would love to display my trains.  When I am not using them, it would be fantastic to put the in a nicely made display case on the wall.  Even when I wasn’t running them, I could admire them.



I certainly would love to display my car and military models.  At present I have them in plastic display cases that are stored up high in the hobby room.  They really can’t be seen, they are just kept from getting dusty.  Of course, I am not sure any of them are really worth displaying.  However, someday, I will build some that will be good enough to show people.
a cool idea



 would make me cry during lockou
I would love to put my Toronto Maple Leaf stuff in display cases.  I’ve got cards, jerseys (yes, that is plural), pucks. coffee mugs, glasses, bobble heads, key chains, and coasters.  Of course, if there is no hockey this year, such a display my bring me to tears.

I am pretty sure that my Japanese mini car collection would look good displayed.  It would look better if I could work in some of the boxes too.  I will have to research that one a bit more.

I am sure all of you out there are facing the same dilemma.  All I can say is good luck, and hope you can protect your stuff from the reckless dusting brush.