New Years Hobby Resolutions

Most people make resolutions for the New Year.  These usually involve promises to quit smoking, or join a gym, or other various forms of condemnation of procrastination.  I am not immune to this.  I have made those same kinds of resolutions (losing weight etc) but these are not really about hobbies.  For hobbies I have a separate list.

  1. Don’t start new hobbies if progress has not been made in other hobbies.  Nothing is worse than having a bunch of stuff gathering dust on a shelf or in a closet.
  2. Don’t become a collector.  Collecting stuff means having more than you can use.  Most hobbyists, myself included, have more model kits than they can build, more trains than they can run, more books than they can read, more paints than they can use before they dry up, and more money invested in non moving stock.
  3. Have more patience.  Nothing can ruin a good hobby than lack of patience.  I can’t count how many paint jobs or decal applications that have been ruined because I didn’t take my time.  Sometimes a near perfect paintjob was ruined because I wouldn’t let it sit long enough–the results were good CSI quality fingerprints.
  4. Get a better handle on this whole blogging thing.  I have enjoyed blogging, but I don’t quite know how to expand the audience of this blog.
  5. Take better pictures for the blog.  I haven’t done a bad job, but a quick tour around the World Wide Web, clearly indicates I could do better.
  6. Enjoy my hobbies more.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my hobbies, but I think there could always be room for improvement.  Enjoying life fully is not as easy as people think.  While hobbies are supposed to be a relief from pressure, they often create their own pressures. (see the previous five points and then tell me if I am wrong)
  7. Complete more.  If you’ve read this blog for a while, you might conclude that the sheer number of hobbies I have means that I don’t complete a lot, and you’d be right.  I hope that 2013 is different.

 

Happy New Year Everyone

In Pursuit of Trivia

 
 
In the early 80’s a game came out that changed our family get togethers forever.  That game, in case you hadn’t guessed, was Trivial Pursuit.  That famous trivia game, invented in Canada, set the stage for epic battles for years to come.  While this is true of my family, I am sure it is no different for many other families out there.  Who wouldn’t want to prove that they are smarter than their family members, friends, or anyone else hanging around.

I love the game, and have a decent enough memory to be mildly successful.  I am not great at all categories–geography (the blue wedge) often eludes me.  Of course, calling this category Geography vexes my sister to no end (when one’s major is geography, and nothing they studied ever appears on the cards, they have a credible point).  I guess we all have our favourite categories.  I prefer arts and lit. (the brown wedge)

There probably is an important strategy question.  Should one go after their easiest wedge first, or should you tackle your most difficult one?  I usually opt for my favourite first, hoping to get a lucky geography question.

My family has several (and by several I mean more than seven) versions of the game–and no, we do not have the Twilight Version–we do have the Friends version of SceneIt, but that’s another, often loud, story.  I am better at the Baby Boomer and 80’s versions of the game.  My father can’t stand either of them, so they don’t get played very often.  This is obvious when you need to pull out the dust rag every time you want to play them.

The game is about answering trivia questions, rolling the dice, moving between “roll again” spaces endlessly until you have to answer questions that really matter.  Of course the game is also filled with asides, inside jokes, family needling, and incredible digressions.  Basically, it is a lot of fun.

What is and What is not a Hobby

Before the year is out, I have several lists to make.  Some of them are private, but some I am willing to share.  Some you’ll like, and some… you’ll wonder why I’m sharing them…such is the nature of blogging.

The first is the list of things that are not hobbies, and outside of this list, should not appear in this blog.

Shovelling snow.  Despite the fact that I will have to do this for the next few months, and despite the fact that the news people/weather forecasters, having survived the end of the Mayan calendar, are now calling for the snowiest winter in living memory, this is not a hobby.  It requires specialist equipment, and at times inhuman persistence, but it is not a hobby.

Drinking egg nog or hot chocolate.  Making the perfect cup of either of these two delicious things should be considered a hobby, but drinking them does not satisfy the definition.

Commuting.  Though it requires a certain tenacity, not to mention resistance to cold Canadian mornings, it does not qualify as a hobby.  The things that make it go faster (reading, playing video games, shaking my head at what some people are wearing, and trying to stare at some of my beautiful fellow commuters) are hobbies, but you knew that already.

Guessing the contents of presents before opening them.  This is definitely fun, and requires some innate talent, but is not a hobby.  I would wager to say it would make a great career if we could turn it into a carnival act, but it’s not a hobby.

Eating ramen.  In Japan, this is a hobby, or a career, or a lifestyle…maybe even a religion, but not in my current world.  Sometimes I wish it were, but that’s another story.

Cleaning.  Fantastic if you like it.  Creepy if you like it too much.  A necessity for sure.  Not a hobby.

Sleeping.  I covered this in an earlier blog (if you haven’t read it go check it out) and things still haven’t changed.  It isn’t a hobby…despite my students’ insistence.

Shopping.  I know, I know, for some of you out there this is a hobby……..but I just can’t wrap my head around it, so I am going to have to say no.  Feel free to convince me.  I’m not saying it can’t be done.  I don’t believe it can, but you might have a good argument.  Maybe.

Feel free to add to my list.  And expect more lists as the year draws to a close.  Some will look back at the past (as in what I accomplished this past year) and some will look to the future (what I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year). 

The Perfect Christmas Beer

Is there a perfect Christmas beer?  Marketing people must thinks so.  Why else would the liquor store (LCBO for me) be stocked to the rafters with the huge variety of beer gift packs that normally don’t warrant all that shelf space.  Though they make attractive gifts and keepsakes, if I bought them all, I would have way too many glasses for my shelves.

Forgetting the novelty of these gift packs, is there a perfect Christmas beer?  I have sample some of the winter beers, and most often been disappointed.  They seemed more like wine, and less like beer.  I like strong beer, but I still want it to taste like beer.  I can only conclude that winter beer really isn’t the perfect Christmas beer.

 
Now, if this was fictional, I would list that the perfect Christmas beer got you happy tipsy, but never fall into the Christmas tree (or fireplace) drunk, doesn’t fill your bladder just when it is time to open the presents and it wouldn’t provide you with a hangover (the least favourite Christmas present) but the reality is a little different.  A perfect Christmas beer is one that tastes good, goes with all the Christmas foods, doesn’t make you feel stuffed and doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste which leads to bad Christmas photos.

I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the issue.  Recommendations will be followed up as soon as I can go to the LCBO, or Beer Store.

Practice…is always needed

Coming to grips with your limitations is tough on a hobbyist.  I would like to think that I could enter any hobby and pretty quickly pick up the skills needed to be at least competent. Of course, I would love to be fabulous right out of the gate, but I know that everything has a learning curve.  Some curves are gentle and others are wickedly steep.

When it comes to building models, the easy curves are the assembling, gap filling and learning how to use glue sparingly.  The hard curves are painting and decal application. 

When it comes to train layouts, wiring and maintenance are the hard curves, while collecting trains is so easy that everyone usually overdoes it–okay, not everyone, just me.

When it comes to remote control cars, building the cars is relatively easy.  The instructions are usually clear, and the body paints up quite easily–though some people need to give their heads a shake when they think of colour combinations.  Driving the car well enough to avoid collisions and maybe win a heat or two is the difficult part.

All hobbies have learning curves.  Everything requires a lot of practice.  As I type this I can hear the voices of all my teachers and mentors echoing the same words.  The worse part is, as I am sure you will agree, that it is easy to ignore them, hope for the best, and hopefully not destroy something you’ve been working on out of frustration.  No matter what someone says, the most important lessons are the hardest to learn.

Pong
 
This blog came about because I was playing a first person shooter video game on Friday.  In a nutshell, I sucked.  I sucked bad.  I come from an era of top down, two dimensional video games with minimal stories, minimal controls.  Today’s controllers have as many buttons as my keyboard and require a lot of precise control.  There is way more to keep track of and so much happens in the blink of an eye.  We’ve come a long way from pong.

I could beat myself up about this, but I won’t.  I know that everything takes time.  I am sure that with more practice I could become better at this.  I won’t be great, but I won’t embarrass myself….again

 

The Panda Kit–a totally biased review

 
I resisted building some of the smaller Nanoblock kits because….because….actually, I don’t know why.  Maybe I thought I had to build the biggest and most difficult kits there were.  Maybe I just had grand visions.  Maybe I thought they were a little beneath me.

I bought the panda kit because pandas are cute–everybody knows that.

the kit contents
There are only two colours in the Panda kit and the kit is not rated too difficult.  That being said, I think the results were tremendous.  It looks really good, and it catches my eye every time I pass by that shelf.

great results
On a side note, I saw a woman buying ten nanoblock kits at Scholar’s Choice a couple of weeks ago.  She was planning on including them in loot bags given out at a kid’s party.  I was really impressed.  She was spending a fair amount of money on other people’s kids.  Those lucky children were going to get their first taste of nanoblock addiction–and I am sure some of them will be converted for life.

 

Japan and Things Japanese



 a collection of great Japanese magazines
I don’t want people to think I have an unhealthy obsession with Japan.  However, after looking at my posts, I am forced to conclude that obsession is a pretty good word to describe the relationship between Japanand myself.

Before anyone starts jumping to conclusions, my obsession does not get anywhere near either cosplay or AKB48.  My obsession seems to take other forms…many other forms.



A fantastic (but sadly gone) magazine
Anyone who has been reading this blog had probably already concluded that Japanand things Japanese have a strong place in my life.  A lot of my hobbies and hobby equipment come from Japan.  This includes Tamiya and Fujimi model kits.  It also includes Japanese language learning materials.  On top of that, I love some Japanese sports like Sumo, or the Hanshin Tigers Baseball team.  Don’t forget some of my trains and die-cast miniature cars.



This passion which borders on obsession has always been a big part of my life, and did not end with living there for several years.  It has survived at least five return visits and the whole plethora of experiences that go with them.  Though I don’t live there, I keep several reminders of my time in Japan.



A list of the Sumo rankings
These reminders almost represent an inadvertent collection, but, in fact, aren’t.  They represent a very conscious decision to keep these mementos around.  Some are classy, some are a little tacky, and some are just cardboard boxes that once had candy in them.  It is a collection whose only purpose is to make me smile at some fleeting memories.

I am sure I will continue to amass things from Japan(including the wonderful, wacky and weird) I only hope I can show some restraint.



delicious caramels

If you have a Moment…

If you have a moment, please check out my non-hobby related blog.  It is called the octagonal peg (I wanted to call it Rebel Without Applause, but that was already taken).  The link is below on the right side of this blog, along with links to other blogs that I find interesting.
Please feel free to leave any comments about it.  It a place where I vent my frustrations on daily life.  Hopefully you will find it funny and occasionally insightful.

What’s Next?

As a hobbyist with too many hobbies, I am most often juggling several at one time. Nothing wrong with that as it keeps me from getting bored.  I realize that I have not posted an update on my hobbies lately–mostly because I am not particularly satisfied with the results, partly because I am preoccupied with Christmas (and memories of Christmas’ past) and partly because having so many hobbies, work, obligations and a rather long commute, I haven’t completed that much.

lots of kits to build
I have managed to actually finish some things, and that means I have to look ahead.  That’s the topic of this blog: What lies ahead?  I am sure most hobbyists confront this question.  Mostly, they are confined within one hobby, but I am sure they ask it.  Train layout builders ponder if they should expand their layouts, or redo some part of it.  Video gamers wonder which game they want to beat next.  Puzzle makers consider which kit has the least amount of sky.  Music makers are looking for the next beat.  All of us are wondering what’s next.

What makes this question so difficult for me is that it has so many meanings.  Which kit should I build next?  Which Nanoblock kit should I buy and build next?  Which train building needs to get done next?  Which set of freight cars should I buy?  What layout project should I tackle next?  Which blog should I update next?  Should I start a new blog?  Which books should I get from the library?  Should I start a new hobby like remote control helicopters?  Should I get a pool table for my house? (The Hustler was on TV this weekend…. just so you understand how my mind works)  Should I get my motorcycle or pilot’s licence?  Should I join the gym?  Wouldn’t it be cool to make my own beer?  Baking seems like a good way to feed myself.



lots of model railroad buildings to make
Yes, not only do I wonder what is next in the hobby queue based on what I am doing (I finished one kit, what’s the next one?) but also on what new hobby I would like to take up.  Is this wise?  I can’t really say that it is, but that is just how things go.  That’s what makes the question, what’s next? so difficult.



The other wrinkle in all this is preparation.  I might want to do something, but that doesn’t mean I am ready to do it.  I might pick a model kit, or building kit and find I don’t have the paint or that my glue has dried into a rock solid mass that will never dislodge itself from the bottle.  There is nothing more of momentum killer than having to go out and get something.



and a nanoblock project awaiting
Sometimes a trip to the hobby store is good for getting oneself going again, but for someone like me, it just opens up too many avenues of exploration.  Going to the hobby store for glue might mean the beginning of an entirely new hobby.



So, what’s next?