A Quick Puzzle Before Christmas

Despite being the king (oops, I meant jack) of all hobbies, I have to admit, I haven ‘t done a lot of hobby related things lately.  I could blame the weather, or I could blame myself and the fall TV schedule.  Either way, I haven’t had a lot to write about.

I have been writing my other blog, whose links you can find on the right side of this page under the title “cool blogs”.  Mine is called Today’s Perfect Moment.  I have been putting a lot of energy there and have grown a rather large community in a short time.  There seems to be a lot more cross blogging done there and the page is set up to encourage followers.

HOBBY HAPPENINGS

While I haven’t done a lot, I have done some things.  Most recently, I got the itch to do a puzzle.  Maybe it is because I associate puzzles with Christmas.  I am surprised that no one gives these things as stocking stuffers anymore.  Knowing how addicting that can be, I really wasn’t in the mood to tackle a monster 5000 piece puzzle.  I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  What was my answer…the dollar store of course.

I found a couple of decent puzzles at the dollar store (Dollar Tree in this case) and purchased them for $1.25 each.  Even with Canadian tax, that still brought in two puzzles for less than $3.

I spent a couple of nights on the first one.  There seems to be no deterioration in my puzzle building skills and I was able to do it rather quickly.  Of course, that first night, I did the usual “just one more piece before I go to bed” thing, and wound up spending a hour or more when I should have been sleeping.  This probably was to the detriment of my students but I didn’t actually yawn while teaching.

The puzzle wasn’t the best quality.  The fit was a little loose and it came apart a couple of times.  Some pieces still had untrimmed edges (there seemed to be extra paper at the bottom layer of some of the pieces) and one was a little crumpled.  However, it only cost $1.25, so I can’t get tremendously angry about that.

When I lived in Japan, I bought frames and puzzle glue for the puzzles.  However, these days, now that I have finished, I will probably take it apart and give it to someone else to do.
Advertisements

Hobbies Lead to Tool Lust

Once again I find myself in a hobby conundrum.  The only good thing is that I recognize it, and might be able to escape this one.  However, I am not really sure.

I used to love riding my bicycle.  I rode all over the place.  This might have a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t have a car, but I am pretty sure that isn’t all of it.  I know I loved the feeling of speed and power.  I remember once thinking I could be in the Tour de France.  I was never that good, but every boy has to dream.

I have always owned a bike.  When I had a job as a teenager, I took my bike to work every day.  If I had the choice of bus or cycle, I always chose cycle.  When I lived in Japan I bought a bike on a whim and had to carry it home on a very packed subway and train.  This was the kind of thing I did.  I never second guessed decisions like that. 

Lately, I have been thinking about getting back on my bike before the dust in the garage consumes it completely.  It would certainly help with the fitness part of my diet.  Of course, being dusty, it is going to require a bit of maintenance, and that is where the dilemma comes from.  I could pay someone to do it for me, or I could do it myself.
I know that I would rather do it myself.  Yes, it is a mechanical job, but it doesn’t seem that hard.  So, I did what I always do.  I checked the internet and found lots of good resources and tools.  Do you see where I am going with this?

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I have tool equipment lust to a terribly high degree.  Sometimes, I love hobby tools more than the hobby itself.  I thought I was strange, but after reading other blogs and internet forums, I know I am not the only one.  Plus, I am one of those guys.  I think tools are cool.  I want them, and I want good ones.

My current lust features two things:  A bike stand for working on the bike, and a dedicated set of tools.  Of course, there are some really flashy ones out there, but I have settled on these two.  The fact that they come in sexy anodized blue is just a coincidence–or is it.  Perhaps, I really don’t need these things, but I scratched the itch, and I am now I am starting to obsess.

I probably have enough tools that I only need a few specialized ones to do any repair that I want.  I also don’t need sexy blue tools.  Plain ones will do.  As for the bike stand, while not necessary, it certainly would be handy.

The next deadly step is to go to a bike shop (rather than the internet) to see what they have.  I might succumb and regret it, but what else can I do.

A Pointy Dilemma

 
The internet has been a boon to the hobbyist.  We can research things and find things we could never do before.  We can order and receive products without ever leaving the comfort of desk chair.  While I have reflected on this before, it bears repeating and re-examining.  While the hobby industry is benefiting, hobby shops are not.  Hobby shops can’t compete with internet.

In most cases, I tend to side with the hobby store.  I appreciate their knowledge and understand that their costs (actually having a store) are going to be higher than someone on the internet.  That doesn’t stop me from looking and comparing, though.  (As I mentioned before, doing research on a new hobby is almost as exciting as the hobby itself–call it armchair hobbying)  I am mindful of the price difference when I enter the store.  As long as the difference isn’t too great, I most often choose the hobby store.

If you read my last post (If you haven’t go back and read it now.  Read them all now!!–We will call that a desperate plea for readers) you will know that my latest hobby obsession is darts.  I have only played once, and have sunk absolutely no money into it so far.  In fact, the only livelihoods I have supported are the Royal Canadian Legion’s and its employees.  That is if you call drinking a couple of beers at ridiculously low prices support.

I digress (as usual).

I have started looking for darts.  I spent part of yesterday’s snowstorm driving around to all the usual stores seeing what they had.  Alas, what they had really wasn’t much.  In the end, I ended up at a store that had a whole range of darts, dart accessories and dartboards.  It was tucked away in an industrial area.  I probably wouldn’t have found it without the help of Google and Google maps.

I spend a fair bit of time at the store, trying out various darts and talking to the store owner.  He was helpful and knowledgeable and didn’t try to pressure me.  The prices were a little high, but it was a specialty store and they didn’t really have any low end stuff.  After some practice, I settled on a set I planned to buy.  I say planned because I need to wait out the credit card cycle a little.
Being research driven, I came home and searched out these particular darts on the internet, and found them for sale on EBay.  The price with shipping would save me about forty bucks, if I understand the tax laws.  Of course, I might get hit by duty, but how much could it be.  Maybe five dollars?  So I would save only thirty-five.

The dilemma for me is that I appreciate the time the owner spent with me.  I also would like to go back there to buy accessories and whatnot.  I don’t know how many customers they get, but while I was there (a not insignificant amount of time) I was the only customer.  I don’t think he will forget my face, and he might wonder what happened.

If this were some nameless, faceless corporation run out of the mall, I wouldn’t see it as a dilemma.  I would probably have bought them already.  Of course, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time at the store talking to the person either.

Basically, I am asking for your opinions–or if you want to share your experiences.  I know some of you run businesses, so you must give me your honest take on the situation.

 

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.

Too Much, Too Many?

How much is too much?  How many is too many?  Either every hobbyist must answer these questions, or spend a lot of time avoiding answering these questions.  If they don’t ask themselves, then surely someone in their family, or circle of friends, or amongst their co-workers will ask this question.  At first, it will be polite, but that will change…. Given time.

Hobbyists (the part that becomes the collector) start out small.  A few model kits here, a stumble across a sale means a few more, a deal at a yard sale, a trip to a convention…. I used model kits as an example, but it might just as well have been trains, die cast cars, Lego kits, DVD series, tools, doilies, stamps, hockey cards….. really, I should have just left a blank and asked you to fill it in.

You know the kind of hobbyist I mean.  This person has way more stuff than they can ever tackle, and has no desire to part with any of it… at any price.  They’ve got some great stuff, some usual stuff, and hidden away, though not less valuable to them, some very mediocre stuff that they wouldn’t show their hobby friends.

In my case, it isn’t quite that bad.  I don’t have too much of any one thing.  I’ve got more than I need (don’t we all), but I won’t be featured on any hoarding television show.  However, I probably have too many hobbies, and therefore too much hobby stuff as opposed to too much of one thing.
I am pretty good at setting limits, but I am often swept away by new interests.  Something new is more interesting than something I have seen before.  Something different is better than something I already know about.  Of course, this is also limited by cost, but that will be the subject of another blog (the title will also be “How much is too much?” but with different implications)

Recent additions to the collection
So how much/many is too much/many?  It’s a tough question.  As for model kits, more than you can build in your lifetime would seem to be a good place to start….but that doesn’t take into account new things that come onto the market.  The same could be said for trains.  More than you can run in a weekend seems like a good number.  Lego…. when you can build your own house out of Lego, you should probably stop.  Comic books…. when the boxes can’t be stored in the guest room, that should be it.  Tools….if you haven’t even taken them out of the package in a few years, the message should be clear.  The list could go on, and I really want to hear from you people and how much you think is too much for the hobbyist in your life.