A Japanese Moment

A Japanese Matsuri, or festival, was held in Toronto today.  Things Japanese took over the Yonge and Dundas Square.  As a fan of things Japanese, and lover of Japanese food (over the top five-star cuisine as well as homey festival food) I decided to partake of the event.

It was pleasant to walk around and hear the sounds of Japanese mixed with the tones of tourists asking questions.  It was nice to smell the wonderful cooking odours of takoyaki, and karage.  It took me back some seventeen years to festivals past. to parts of my life that seem so remote from now, but really aren’t so far removed.

I think of Japanese festivals held down by the edges of rivers, hundreds of stalls (Toronto had maybe a dozen) selling all manner of grilled things, fireworks lighting up the night sky, children panning for goldfish, and people enjoying beer.  Sometimes I feel like I have come so far and other times I feel like I have gone so far.  Strange journey I have undertaken, which has, for this afternoon at least, left me melancholy.
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Thoughts on puzzles

Puzzles are not everyone’s favourite hobby, but I always find time to do a few a year.  The fact that trains are often featured in puzzles is a bonus.  I wouldn’t call it killing two birds with one stone.  That’s silly.  I would call it synergistic….but that’s probably because I was an English major and I need to utilize that expensive (albeit subsidized by the government) vocabulary.

standard assembly…edges first
Puzzles are a pretty solitary hobby with me.  I have known others who treat it as a family activity, but that isn’t the case with me.  Perhaps it’s selfish.  Either way, the best thing about puzzles is that you can easily see your progress, and more often than not, you do reach completion–which is not always the case with my other hobbies.

If I am lucky, I can put it in a place where the cat won’t disturb it and work on it from time to time.  I don’t usually put in big chunks of time unless I get sucked in by fitting lots of pieces, or because I should go to bed…and I keep telling myself, “just one more piece.”  In these cases, I seem to devote a lot more time to it.

I am a typical puzzle maker….I think.  I start by assembling the edges first.  That seems logical, but I wonder…is there someone out there who starts in the middle and works their way to the edges?  That would be pretty cool to see.

assembling the train is a priority
Since most of my puzzles feature trains, the train gets assembled first.  The worst thing is that I am usually left with sky, and lots of it.  This isn’t bad if you’re doing the puzzle under natural light, but under a light bulb differentiating light blue from lighter blue isn’t so easy.  This latest puzzle was rather odd in that I got the sky done before the mountains.  No complaints, but it just isn’t the way things have been going lately.

not just sky left…this time
I happy it is done, and I won’t be doing another puzzle until September or later….It’s funny how I think I can plan these things, when I know that’s not true.  I’ll do a puzzle when my fancy strikes me, not when I plan it.  I could have a hundred other projects before I see another puzzle.

New Deluxe SKY TREE by Nanoblocks

I was checking out the nanoblocks website and I came across something cool, and decided to share it with you guys.  I have done built the deluxe Himeji Castlekit and it was fantastic.  I really want to do their German Castle kit (I am too lazy to look up how to spell it correctly).  What I saw today has made me change the order I want to do things in.  Now I want to do their deluxe SkyTree kit.  It looks fantastic, lights up in many colours and has more than 3800 pieces.  I want it, and I want it now.

 

 

Of course, I am going to have to search high and low all over the web to find it….but I will.

You Get What You Pay For

 
I would never say no to a bargain.  Who doesn’t love a good deal?  In my hobby life, I have come across some great deals.  Once I got a fantastic Ford Fairlane model kit for two dollars (I bought 3….because there were 3 customizing options).  Twice (and despite the deals, I do find this to be sad) I came upon hobby stores that were having going out of business sales.  My latest find were some puzzles.  While these weren’t $1 puzzles (which were a pretty good deal), they were on sale.  When I opened the box I understood why.

Maybe I should just stop complaining and call this a puzzle review.  Maybe then I could be more objective and less annoyed.  Either way, this puzzle leaves a lot to be desired.



a poor, but effective taping
In terms of packaging, I usually want to use the box top for something.  With car models, and puzzles (when I am not looking at the picture) I need the two box parts for sorting.  As you can see with this puzzle, this is going to require some work before that can happen.  My dollar store puzzles allowed me to use both box parts, why not this one?



I did what I had to do, and taped up the box.  Although this was neither time consuming nor money consuming, it still felt like an extra step that I did not want to take.  Usually unboxing something makes me pretty excited.  Based on my YouTube video of unboxing the Statue of Liberty kit in an earlier post (72 views as of today) it seems pretty cool to most of you out there as well.  This unboxing event left me a little cold.
a lot of my work done for me



Another annoying thing was the amount of already done pieces.  When I was a kid, I enjoyed this.  It meant less work for me.  However, as an adult, I feel a little cheated.  Usually there are only one or two already connected pieces, but there were quite a few more than that in this puzzle.  It isn’t a big deal but…..



The box also contained quite a bit of box dust, or box debris.  I expect a little of this, but certainly not the amount that I got in this one.  Again, if I compare it to my dollar store purchases, those had less.
A lot of debris in the box.

Did I learn a lesson?  I would like to say yes, but only time will tell.  My instinct to purchase train themed things and to look for a good deal usually trumps the voice of caution.  I have gotten better at this, but I would be lying if I said I always took the high road.



If any of you have had similar get what you pay for experiences, please feel free to comment.  Maybe hearing it from you would make it finally sink in.

Cyber Punks Revisited in Lego

I just had to share this with you.  I love early cyberpunk novels by William Gibson, and of course Bladerunner (and I have been to Japan) so you will clearly see how this appeals to me.  While I have a nanoblock addiction, I am not nearly as creative as these people.  Check this out if you have a chance.  It is pretty cool.

 http://www.unfinishedman.com/the-ultimate-cyberpunk-lego-city-cyberpocalypse-at-brickfair-2013/

Tools and Projects

Whenever I get a chance to use some tools, I feel pretty manly.  Call it stereotypical, call it macho bullshit, call it whatever you want.  I know how I feel.  With tools in hand I feel great.

It should come as no great shock that I am not a master craftsman.  I am not talking about designing and building great furniture from beautiful wood.  I am really talking about assembling a cheap, compressed sawdust, piece of furniture from a box.  Not so amazing, but still, if I build it, then I feel pretty good.

My latest project was a media cabinet.  It was on sale at Canadian Tire (discontinued) and therefore not expensive at all.  I decided I wanted to put my DVD’s away, rather than stack them in piles on the coffee table, desk, or floor.  It seems like a noble idea–I guess I am a victim of the desire to organize, even if it rarely gets done.  My heart is in the right place.

This particular creation required only two screwdrivers and a hammer.  Usually, I don’t classify it as a real project unless it takes a least five tools, and one of them has to be a power tool.  That seems reasonable doesn’t it?