Japanese Cargo Trains

I just wanted to put some shots of some of my other Japanese cargo trains…..in case there were some train fans out their reading this blog.
I think these mini tankers are kind of cool.  I don’t know what they are called, but do like them.  The ones on the right are undecorated, but someone put the sticker numbers on them already.  I will have to paint over them and apply some new letters–sounds like a project.

An overhead view.

I am interested in Japanese cargo trains for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I seem to have an over exaggerated interest in anything Japanese.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know that.  The second is the sheer novelty of it.  These cargo trains are quite different from the ones we have in North America.  The third is that their way of doing things is different.  You don’t need to have a bunch of different cars, just different cargo add- ons.  This is the same rail car as in previous shots, just with different card put on top.  Seems pretty cool to me, but I would love to hear from other N scale railroaders about their opinions.

Most of what I have seen in hobby shops around here are just Japanese bullet trains.  Nobody seems to have cargo trains.  It is too bad, because they are cool.

Easy Isn’t Better

I like mental puzzles.  I take great pride in my ability to do things like Sudoku, or logic puzzles, or codewords, or crosswords.  I do them at home, on lunch breaks, and even in the bus on the way to and from work.  This takes a bit more skill because sometimes the bumps on the road come exactly when I am writing down a crucial word or number.  This doesn’t really bother me though.  It isn’t the greatest frustration that I have.  The greatest frustration comes when crossword puzzles are too easy, too predictable, or seemingly rather lazy.

A couple of years ago at my work, several people used to do the crossword puzzle as a group.  They enjoyed doing it…but after a while they had to mix things up.  I came upon them one day and witnessed a strange scene.  The person holding the puzzle said the answers and they had to guess the clues.  They were quite proficient at it.  I guess the puzzles had gotten rather predictable.

As of late, the puzzles that I am doing (featured in the “free” newspaper) have been full of lazy clues.  So many of them are suffixes and prefixes, or words that wouldn’t normally need an s–but do in this case only.  One TV show (How I Met Your Mother) has the main character saying they always use the same clue because they need the vowels–I didn’t realize how true that was.

For the next week, I won’t be doing the crossword puzzle, because it has become too predictable.  I could blame it on myself.  I am the one who chose to do the “free” puzzles.  If I were smarter, I would go to the bookstore and get a book of tough crosswords.  Then, at least, I wouldn’t complain about easy and lazy crosswords. 

Things Get in the Way

Life gets in the way of hobbies.  There, I said it.  Most of you were thinking it, but you didn’t want to say it.  It isn’t the adult thing to do.  Hobbies are supposed to come after everything else in life, not the other way around.

Perhaps that is true……but I don’t always think that way.

In a perfect world my hobbies would be my job.  There would be a way for my hobbies to support me, and fund themselves in the process.  By the way, if you think that is what this blog is for, you’d be partly right.  Someday, someday far in the future, I might have enough readers that this blog makes money….. but that isn’t the case right now.  Right now, this blog is more like writing practice.  It would be wonderful if it became more than that, but I don’t know if or when that will ever happen.

Besides that necessary evil called work, life is full of things that take the hobbyist away from the hobbies.  Household chores, inside and out, are a huge impediment to getting down to hobbies.  If clean clothes and dishes are not a big priority, perhaps some more hobby time could be squeezed in.  Of course, here in the Great White North, if you don’t shovel, you won’t be able to leave….. perhaps that could lead to more hobby time.

Most of you, have other responsibilities that eat away at hobby time.  If not responsibilities, there are other things to get in the way.  Today is the Daytona 500.  Anybody who likes modeling cars, might want to watch the race.  Take those hours out of the hobby time.  It has been said many times, something’s got to give.

I want to hear from anyone who reads this blog.  How do you set aside time to pursue your hobbies?  What gets in your way?

A Win Win Situation

Getting some trains running has buoyed my spirits.  I got the chance to hear the clack clack of the engines running over the tracks, see the lights on the diesel blaze ahead of the train, and got to see some of my trains perform.  We will call that a win.

I also got the inspiration to shoot some pictures and some video.  The pictures I will include here, and the video….well, despite my belief that I would never do it, I uploaded the videos to YouTube.  A few people have stumbled across them, but I don’t expect that number to grow rapidly.

I think the motivation for putting things on YouTube was in fact a combination of several things.  The first is that I took some video, and wondered if it could be uploaded.  The second was that, despite my reservation, I want to emulate those Jvloggers (like Busan Kevin, Tokyo Cooney, discount sausage, and the late Rodger Swan) that I like so much and be on YouTube.  The third is that I was hoping to draw a few more people to my blog.

The last of these things seems a little selfish, but it is true.  Right now, about twenty people see each post (and sometimes fewer).  Though I don’t think it will ever reach thousands, I can dream.  I’d like to think I am entertaining people, and that I could find a larger audience.  Of course, I need to be realistic as well.

Regardless of the motivation, the end result is that I have some train pictures to include here, and four videos up on YouTube.  Again, we would call that a win-win situation.


An Easy Place to Have a Conversation

I don’t spend a lot of time talking to random people in public.  I am friendly, just not that outgoing.  I don’t really want to bother people.  The funny thing is, that usually doesn’t apply to visits to the hobby store.  In the hobby store, or at hobby shows, I find myself drawn into all kinds of conversations–sometimes not even about hobbies.

If I had to guess, I would say that there is something special about hobby shops.  The atmosphere lends itself to conversations that you might not otherwise have.  This is true of other hobby related shops as well.  I have had some rather interesting conversations at comic books stores…but since everyone has seen episodes of The Big Bang Theory, this is no longer a nerd only shared mystery.  Some people might think that the show is an exaggeration…..how wrong they would be.

The hobby shop, or comic book shop, or some other specialist shop, is an easy place to have a conversation.  Most people have too much knowledge to contain within themselves for too long, so they have to let it out.  Most of the time the advice I have received has been wonderful and amazing.  Some times I took it, and sometimes I didn’t–sometimes that was a smart move, and sometimes I regret not taking it….such is life.

The most interesting of these times for me were in Japan.  Hobby nerd that I am –I wish I could say hobby professional, but until this blog is seen by thousands I day, I can’t really do that….. but I digress.  Hobby nerd that I am, I have been to hobby shops in Japan.  I have been to model shops, train shops, electronic shops.  Yes, I have been to the nerd Mecca of Akihabara.  My Japanese is pretty good, but I always feel better when I can strike up a conversation in a hobby shop.  I come away feeling pretty good about my skills, and I have usually picked up quite a few words to add to my vocabulary.

For those of you who are even less outgoing than myself, but still want to strike up a conversation, I suggest wondering something out loud.  It should work like a charm.

New Trains

A trip to the hobby store is a little like letting a drug addict open up a drug store.  Okay, it isn’t that bad, but think about it.  When was the last time you went to a hobby shop and came home empty handed?  When?  Think about it?


See what I mean?  Walking the aisles in a hobby shop conjures up new ideas, makes you think of hobbies or sub hobbies that you’ve never heard of or thought of.  I know it’s true.  I started this blog because I have been bitten while “just looking” at my local hobby store.  I wasn’t supposed to come home with anything….but it just didn’t happen that way.

This past weekend was no different.  I went to look and ….. well, you can see the pictures.

Hi Soft Caramels

Long time readers (I am allowed to say that now, aren’t I? It has almost been a year) will know that I have more than a passing affinity for Japan.  I consider it my second home, and I try hard to maintain my connections to it.  When it comes to hobbies, Japanis Nirvana.  In no other place are you allowed, perhaps encouraged is a better word, to deeply develop your hobbies.

Today’s entry isn’t about hobbies in Japan, but rather just a shot of some caramels that I bought today.  I visited the Japanese grocery store to have some lunch and to see what kind of stuff they had for sale.  I don’t get there as often as I used to, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Today, I picked up some candy.  Today I picked up one of my favourite candies.

When I was a kid Kraft used to sell toffee, or caramels.  I distinctly remember the pink or blue wrappers as well as the clear cellophane ones.  I googled, but couldn’t find the coloured wrapper ones.  Maybe I am imagining it.

Back to the Japanese caramels.  I am not sure why I started buying them in Japan.  Perhaps the name attracted me.  Perhaps I was feeling like a daredevil (in Japan this can lead to wonderfully good surprises–coffee milkshakes, to super epic fails–fish and corn filled buns).  Perhaps I figured there would be chocolate in the box.  Whatever the reason, I have loved them ever since.  I have consumed many boxes of them.  I consumed them in Japan, and since coming back.

They used to have a small picture card inside the box.  I thought those days were gone, but the box that I bought had a picture of a cat from Shimane Prefecture.  Maybe they are reviving the tradition.  One day, like the phone cards, I will scan in my collection of these cards.

If you’re ever in Japan, or in an Asian supermarket, be sure and try them out.  If you are interested in Japanese treats, there are some great blogs.  My favourite is by the same blogger who writes about the “things that she will and won’t miss when leaving Japan.”  You can find a link to it on the right hand side of this blog.