Reboot

The History

A couple of years ago, I started writing a blog on hobbies.  People said it would be fun and it would give me a lot of writing practice.  I searched the internet for places to blog and settled on blogger because it came so highly recommended.  Most people explained that it was easy to use, looked pretty good, and that I had a chance to make some money.  That all sounded attractive to me.

They were quite correct.  Setting up the blog, and others, was quite easy.  I generally liked the look of it and was quite satisfied with the results.  I tried my hand at the money thing in various incarnations but failed to cash in on that.  This was the result of a combination of overzealousness by my students and a lack of page views .  If you don’t attract the people, you probably won’t be the next internet sensation.

Nonetheless, I soldiered on.  What I found was that I liked the writing and I enjoyed the small amount of interaction with readers.  It just didn’t grow at all, and very few people left any comments.  At the time, I figured this was normal, but I wondered why blogging was popular if you didn’t get a lot of comments.

Then a funny thing happened.  I started a blog on WordPress (the free one) because I just wanted to write something different.  While it isn’t a runaway hit (or featured on Freshly Pressed) it did seem to garner more of a following.  I realized that WP did a better job of promoting within itself, and creating a community of bloggers.

So that’s why I am here.  I am hoping for a bigger audience and greater interaction.  Only time will tell, but I am quiet optimistic.

The Name

When I started on Blogger, I called this blog Jack of All Hobbies.  I thought I was being witty.  I figured people would get the allusion to jack of all trades, master of none.  Instead, people just thought my name was Jack (which it isn’t) and I wasn’t smart at all.  I probably should have changed the title, but by then it just seemed like too much work.  As of now, I am trying to decide if I should be “A Man with Too Many Hobbies” or “Too Many Hobbies–So Little Time.”  Please let me know what you think.

The Future

I will continue to write about hobbies and anything that resembles a hobby.  My definition is quite broad, so you never know what I will write about.  Figure that books, things Japanese, food, cycling, and models will all be part of it.  Then again, it could be stamps, cards, exercise or YouTube.  Who really knows.

I will also have to play with the format quite a bit–so expect some changes.  We will see what works and what doesn’t.  Feel free to give your opinion.

A Look Back

I will eventually delete this blog, but if you want to see how it looked, please check here.  If the link is broken, that means I deleted the page.

Blog Photos

a blurry view of my nanoblock menagerie
 
 
I feel very strongly that every blog post should have a photo.  My train of thought is that photos are visually appealing, and that they give a preview of what the blog will be about.  Maybe, thanks to google searches, they might even net me a reader or two.

I should be thankful that the digital revolution has made taking photos and adding them to blogs (as well as adding them to facebook, or bombarding relatives with the latest 100 cute cat pictures) really easy.  Maybe too easy.  I remember when all we wanted to do with our photos was slap it on a cup or maybe make a calendar.  Oh how times have changed.

My camera is pretty good, and I love the photos it takes of friends and family.  However, I am not often such a fan of the pictures I take for this blog.  Sometimes I forget to push the button for macro, so I just get a blurry mess. Sometimes the simple act of pushing the button is enough to jostle the camera causing another burry mess.  Sometimes, I am just too lazy for the photos to get from the camera to the hard drive of the computer.  It is a wonder how, in the old days,  I was able to wait a week or more for my photos to develop.

I have built a generic backdrop, and I am going to turn it into a psyche (I don’t know if I spelled this correctly, but I mean a backdrop which is curved so that it looks like there is no bottom and back–somebody please comment with the correct term).  It has worked okay, but I am not completely satisfied with it.  I may have to do it again.

my non-descript backdrop
Thinking back to the old days, we probably took a lot fewer pictures.  Heaven forbid I waste film on a poor shot, and that is without even thinking of the more expensive flashcubes.  Now, I can take pictures to my heart’s content.  For a hobbyist that is a good thing,  If I go to a model show, or train show, I can snap a whole lot of pictures.  I can even take a lot of video.  Wow, times have changed.

As for the blog, I want good photos, and I know those generic ones you can get off the internet don’t really appeal to people.  I understand that, I just succumb to laziness sometimes.  All I can do is pledge to do better in the future.

Never A Bad Idea To Visit a Toy Store

I stopped by the toy store today…it must have been fate because I had had no intention of setting foot in the place.  Fortunately I did, because new Nanoblocks have arrived.  New Nanoblocks have arrived!

There were probably 4 or 5 things that I wanted to buy, but will have to wait.  I managed to pick up two kits and I will build them this weekend.  My plan is to do YouTube videos of opening the box and showing the built up version.  I will put the links up here.  At the same time, I will also write a blog or two about them.

Obviously I am a looking forward to putting them together.

Writing a Successful Blog

 
I can’t really be sure what anyone’s motivation for writing a blog is.  I know what mine is…. or at least I have a reason which seems to resonate with me.  I want to be a writer, and this is practice.  When you think of the way the publishing world has gone digital, maybe this is more than practice.  Maybe this is writing.  There is no editor, so no way to judge whether I am being successful at this or not.

Before I became a blogger, I read quite a few blogs.  The seeming ease at which they created content bolstered me quite a bit.  Since becoming a blogger, I have read a lot more.  Some update their content regularly.  Others, seem to have lost steam and haven’t posted in a year…except those that posted self-chastising blogs about how they have to blog more.  I’ve read blogs that have fewer followers than I, and others that seem to have a legion of followers and readers.

How do you measure a successful blog.  Is it the number of followers?  I can’t be sure of that, since quite a few people told me that signing up to be a follower was a passé way of doing things.  Things in the digital age move quickly.  In a few years things like Instagram and Facebook might no longer be relevant.  Sacrilege?  Does anyone remember MySpace?

Do you measure success in the number of page views?  I must confess that I do.  When I see someone’s blog has ten times the number of page views that I’ve got, I get a little bit jealous.  I spend time on Facebook pestering my friends to check out my blog.  I comment on other blogs, hoping that some of their readership will get curious.

Do you measure success based on the number of comments people make?  This sounds reasonable, but doesn’t register with me.  Not only due to the dearth of comments, but also because of my perspective.  If people really wanted to comment, they could probably start their own blogs.

I keep writing, and I alternate between feelings of success and disenchantment.  I enjoy it, but I do hear that voice, occasionally, that wonders why I am doing this.  When I need to answer this voice, I just point out that if Hemmingway were alive today, he would probably have a blog and if Shakespeare were alive today, he would probably be making clips for YouTube.

To Blog or not to Blog…really too late to ask this question.

Encouraging The Blogger In Everyone

As altruistic as the title sounds, I don’t really want everyone to blog, but I wouldn’t mind if they did.  I have been blogging for a little while and I am really enjoying it.  It gives me the chance to write, and it gives me the chance to put voice to some of the things I am thinking and doing.

Recently, a friend has started blogging, and I want to do my best to steer some traffic her way.  Her blog is quite interesting, and definitely worth checking out.  She is writing about things which are quite universal, and definitely provide food for thought.  Here is the link.

http://woodziewarrior.wordpress.com/

For the rest of you out there, if you’ve got something to say, blogging might be a good forum for you.  It is never too late to start, and never underestimate the power of the written word.

Life

 
 
For anyone following this blog, you can see that my posting frequency has fallen off a little.  Sadly, it’s true.  I don’t want the couple of people out there who follow this blog to think I am abandoning it.  No.  Absolutely not!  The sad fact is that the real world is intruding in on my hobby world.  I don’t want it to be that way, but that’s the way it is.  Once things get back to normal, I will be posting fast and furious.
What’s keeping me from the keyboard?  School and yard work.  Check out the photo and see a small sampling of the books that I am reading.  There’s more, I just didn’t want to collect them all in one place in case it totally blew my mind.
Yard work…it’s spring after all.  The grass needs to be cut and weeded and all that other stuff.  Frankly, I really should not focus on the yard and hit the books.  However, a little bit of time outside really wouldn’t hurt.
And don’t forget, next week is Mother’s Day.  If you haven’t got your card and gift sorted out, …. what are you waiting for?



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

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?