A New Hobby Called Darts

 
 
So it is a new year, and for the Jack of all Hobbies that can only mean one thing… (actually it means many things involving resolutions, but I won’t bore you with those)….it is time for a new hobby.

A new hobby you shake your heads ponderously.  Of course, I answer.  I am the jack of all hobbies because I pick up and put down hobbies with ease.  This time the hobby is darts.

It all started innocently enough.  I came across a game of darts on a sports channel (I guess there was no poker to be shown) and was instantly mesmerized by it.  I am not sure if it is the dramatic score calling, the hot women accompanying the often overweight and less than handsome dart players, or just the overall skill that allows them to place those darts so accurately.  Despite what you might think, it is probably the last one.

Whenever the mood for a new hobby hits me, I turn to the internet.  The amazing tool that allows me to share with you my stream of consciousness ramblings allows me to fulfill most of my hobby dreams as well.  I have searched the price of darts and a dartboard as well as several other accessories that I had no idea existed.

The real clincher was the local dart league.  I discovered a weekly league playing at the Legion.  A quick email elicited an invitation.  I showed up and the head of the league unhesitatingly loaned me his rather expensive set of darts to practice with.  He spent time giving me pointers (as did several other people) and then invited me to play in that evenings matches.  I would certainly call that hospitality–and it didn’t hurt that the prices for beer at the Legion were incredibly fair.

When asked what kind of darts I should purchase, the same people said they would supply me with darts for the next couple of weeks so I could try different ones out before I spent my money.  Can’t really beat that for an invitation can you?

So now I’ve got darts on my mind, several new websites in my favourites, and several new items on my Amazon wish list.  This all sounds like it is moving in a positive direction.  All that remains is for me to make it out to dart night again.

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A Life Unlike The One I Am Living

The truth is that I wish I were a ski bum.  I am not sure that is a job, or if that lifestyle even exists anymore, but I wish it were so.  There are so many occupations which I wish I could do besides my current one…but as I see the snow pile up outside my door as I type this, I get the feeling that skiing should somehow be part of it.

I spent one day this week out on the mountain.  One day, in nature, away from the TV and computer and it was glorious.  It was cold, really cold, but glorious nonetheless.  If only I could ski all winter, and bike around the world all summer.  Maybe I should get an agent.

I have digressed from the topic of this blog.  Perhaps that is because this blog is about dreaming and thinking about better things that an 9 to 3:30 job.  I don’t exactly do that 9 to 5 thing that some people call a job.  I don’t even where a suit.  I know, I shouldn’t complain but that is what everyone does.  Maybe even the guy skiing all winter has something to complain about.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out what that would be, but maybe it is true.

I had a great day and I want another one.  Rather than put up with the commute and the rude behaviour of the other commuters, I would like to be on top of the slope, sitting on a crudely made bench or snow bank drinking my coffee.  Instead of hearing about subway delays or grumbling from the commuters, I would like to hear the wind whistling through the trees.

The worst part of this is that I am writing this on a Sunday night, and after a short sleep it will be Monday morning.

My Thoughts on the 50 Book Challenge

In the past two weeks my Facebook friends have inundated me with book requests.  It seems they have joined something called the 50 book challenge.  Okay, they haven’t inundated just me, they have probably inundated everyone.  I don’t want to discourage reading, but there are a couple of things that rub me the wrong way.

The goal is, obviously, to get people reading.  As well as being an important goal, it appears to be a necessary one.  I say this because another post claimed that a large number of people haven’t read a book since high school, or that the average family hasn’t been to a bookstore in years.  Since no mention was made of the library, I will take these “statistics” with a grain of salt.

If you fall into one of the above categories, I feel pretty confident in saying that 50 books seems like a lot.  I am a daily commuter, and therefore, have plenty of time to read.  A book a week isn’t really a challenge–unless someone is talking too loud on their cell phone or the crossword puzzles are particularly difficult that week (I do those too.)  I certainly wouldn’t want someone to read 25 books and feel like a failure.  Twenty-five books should be as equally celebrated an accomplishment as 50 would be.  Heaven forbid someone only reads 49.

I understand this is part of that New Years Resolution deal.  As someone who has resolved to lose weight every year, and not always reached that goal, I know how disheartening that would be.  However, if this is the way you motivate yourself, I hope it works out.

As I said, I don’t want to discourage reading.  I love reading.  I just don’t want this to turn people off reading like some high school English teachers have obviously done.  Please enjoy reading your books at whatever pace you manage.  If you don’t get through a book a week, relax.  If you enjoyed your read, it doesn’t matter how long it took.

I had never heard of this challenge before, but a quick online search reveals that this is not a new challenge.  It has been going on for years.  I wonder why it has gained so much momentum this year?

For people taking this challenge I would like to offer some advice

v     If you feel yourself behind schedule, there are lots of quick reads out there.  You can sacrifice some of the “classics” you have chosen for some guilty pleasures.  Quick read choices for me include Robert B. Paker, Barry Eisler, and Patrick Robinson.  You can blast through these in a day or two.

v     Don’t neglect your library.  Supporting writers by buying books is great, but taking trips to the library is also a  good way of developing a habit–which is an unstated goal of the 50 book challenge.  I am a big supporter of the library because I just don’t have enough shelf space for books I have already read.

v     Don’t read too many books of the same author in a row.  It can get tiresome.
If you are going to proceed, I would like to offer you a short list of wonderful books.  I have mostly not included a long series of books (such as the phenomenal Ian Ranking detective series).  I have tried to wait before putting this list together because I am sure that I will think of ten more just after I post this….but one has to know when enough is enough and just get the thing out there.

I welcome any comments on this blog, or on my Facebook page if that is where you found the link to get here.

Recommendations

Waterland–Graham Swift
A Prayer for Owen Meany–John Irving
The Crying of Lot 49–Thomas Pynchon
Slaughterhouse Five–Kurt Vonnegut
Barney’s Version–Mordecai Richler
Bluebeard–Kurt Vonnegut
The Sun Also Rises–Ernest Hemmingway
90 Day Geisha–Chelsea Haywood
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo–Stieg Larsson
JPod–Douglas Copeland
Hitching Rides With Buddha–Will Ferguson
Fear and Trembling–Amelie Northomb
Lost Girls and Love Hotels–Catherine Hanrahan
A Separate Peace–Knowles
Pattern Recognition–William Gibson
The Quiet American–Graham Greene


Good Luck Everyone

 

Boxing Day Buys

Boxing day and a trip to the hobby store can be a wonderful and terrible combination.  Wonderful in that there are always things to buy and I am usually in a shopping kind of mood.  I have the desire to spend money and even the hobby store seems to be offering a discount.  I should also mention that after all that giving I feel like giving to myself.  Terrible in that the credit card cycle of Christmas is not yet over and adding to that already mountainous bill is probably not a good idea.

There is a TV commercial that made a big impression upon me.  Two women were discussing their significant others.  One said (in a mocking impression of her husband) “Do you really need all those shoes?”  She smiled and answered her own question.  “Need has nothing to do with it.”

I kind of feel like that about hobby things.  If I really analyzed it, I really don’t need anything.  Being somewhat logical, I can rein myself in usually and pass up things because I don’t need them.  Unfortunately, I can’t always stop myself from wanting things.  Maybe it’s part of my collection obsession. 

On my latest trip to the hobby store I came across a some cars that I thought looked really cool.  They don’t fit the theme of my train collection because I am trying to build a vast array of rolling stock that you would see in Canada.  However, I am also swayed by what looks interesting.  Someday, I will put up my train display case….someday.  And if I don’t run these cars all that often, they will still look good in the case.  I am sure anybody who visits my train layout will comment on them.

Of course, some people might comment by asking me, “just how many cars to you need to run this layout?”  I guess those people probably won’t be staying long.

2013: A Year in Hobbies

The most popular place in Tokyo to spend New Year’s Eve–in Nanoblocks (fitting isn’t it)
 
 
Despite what people might think, Christmas is not necessarily the greatest time for hobbyists.  Yes, Christmas brings the potential of much wanted presents for the hobbyist.  It might also bring a good boxing day sale (as it did in my case) but that doesn’t mean there really is time to actually do anything.  Christmas is so full of stuff that the real hobby season may not begin until the start of the new year.

I know there are people out there who had planned and executed their Christmas shopping and preparation by September.  Those people probably have had lots of time to play with trains or build model cars.  Based on what people on my favourite train site are saying, there seems to have been lots of time to improve their models and run quite a few trains.

I have not been blessed with too many vacation days–yes, I am that guy.  They guy you see marching off to work like some lemming every morning while you are still in your PJs enjoying that first cup of coffee.  While this may sound like sour grapes (and at times it is) I was still better off than the people around here who didn’t have power until Christmas day.  Even if those people had the day off, they couldn’t have run trains or powered an airbrush.

 

The new year is upon us, and I should take stock of the –in terms of hobbies.  Life has been pretty full, but I’d rather focus on what this blog is supposed to focus on.

  • I have enjoyed blogging and while this blog’s readership has been growing slowly, the blog that I set up to help my students’ English has done remarkably well.  I have even done a good job of preparing and working ahead, so I don’t need to panic the day before a lesson is supposed to be published.
  • I have reconnected with the Nscale.net website and have enjoyed their advice and stories as part of my effort to build my n scale train layout.
  • I have built and painted several models, and can feel good about my improvement in these areas.
  • I have spent time running trains and have reignited my passion in this area.
  • I have come to love Nanoblocks, but hate that they aren’t as readily available as their big brother Lego.  While they are popping up at toy stores, they soon sell out and restocking seems to take months.
  • My passion for reading allowed me to read 44 novels this year.  While this is by no means a record for myself, I think it isn’t too bad since for a quarter of the year I had my head buried in ESL methodology books.
  • I found time to do a few Jigsaw puzzles, but wonder what to do with them after they are built.
  • I have watched far too much YouTube, but I am happy that the few things I have posted have seemed popular.  Though, honestly, I am not sure why unboxing the Statue of Liberty Nanoblock kit is so popular.  Maybe one of you could watch it and let me know.
  • It hasn’t been a stellar year for practicing Japanese, but I still feel good about my ability.
In my next blog, I will look ahead to the coming year and what joy it may bring.   Thanks for reading.