I Finally Found It

Despite being into model trains, I really don’t know a whole lot about them.  I have learned a lot in while pursuing this hobby, but I am nothing like the people I meet at the hobby shop.  These people are way into the hobby.  They quote rail lines and dish out engine numbers like I could recite comic book characters.  They have a name for every part of every car.  It amazes and astounds me.  Granted, sometimes it makes me feel rather uninformed.  It also makes me feel that I just don’t take this hobby as serious as other people.  I have to admit, that doesn’t really bother me.

Nonetheless, I do want to continue to educate myself.  I participate in online forums, search the web and do a lot of reading.  If you have seen my other post, you will know that I have amassed a library of interesting books.  Here is a link to that post.

 
Unfortunately, one book has eluded me.  I considered it my white whale (thanks Melville).  Since I started this hobby, I have wanted to read The Model Railroaders Guide to Freight Cars.  The problem was that the book was no longer in print and the prices people were asking for existing copies was rather astronomical.  We’re talking over $300 in some cases.  I wanted to read it….but not at that price.

I have scoured hobby shops, hoping that a stray copy was lurking in an overlooked bin.  I have gone to flea markets, train shows, and even hoped that some unlucky hobbyist’s wife or husband had decided to put their copy into a garage sale.  I have gone so far as to contact the publisher to see if they had a copy or if they ever planned to reprint the book.  They didn’t even bother to respond–Thanks Kalmbach.  I have had the book on my favourites list at Amazon for quite a number of years.

Luckily, I continuously check my lists, because someone decided to part with theirs for a price I deemed reasonable (profitable for sure, but nonetheless reasonable).  It arrived yesterday and I couldn’t be happier.  This seller will no doubt get a five star rating from me.

I haven’t started reading it yet, but after leafing through it, I feel quite happy with my purchase.  I know, most of this information (if not all) is available online, but I like books.  I like sitting on my deck (when it isn’t bitterly cold outside or snowing) and reading.  There is just something so satisfying about the tactile experience. If I feel the need, perhaps I will do a review of the book.

All of  this got me thinking….is there anything out there that you consider your white whale?  Is there something you are on the lookout for?  I imagine it could be an original Star Wars figure still in the package, or Wayne Gretzky’s Rookie card, or ….. who knows.  I would love to hear what you are looking for.

As for me, next on my list is either a 1:12 Mustang convertible model kit, a book on the history of the Starlost, a collection of Park tools for my bicycle, or…… I had better stop before I say too much.

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Calvin and Hobbes

There is nothing that makes me more nostalgic, or take me back screaming to my younger days than Calvin and Hobbes.  There is no denying it, it was a fantastic comic strip, and it makes me laugh every time I open the book–and I do that a lot.

I am not sure if it was the theme of a boy and his tiger, or the time travelling, or the incredible daydreams….. but it struck a chord with me that has never stopped.  I love it now as much as I did the first day I read it.

It raises the hard what if question.  What if Bill Waterson hadn’t stopped when he did?  Would we still be laughing at the exploits that precocious boy and his rational, sceptical tiger?  I would like to believe that we would.  In that way the world would be a better place.

I still find a few comics worth reading.  Zits and Retail come to mind.  In recent months Dilbert has also come to have greater importance.  They are funny, and occasionally profound.  However, if I miss them, it doesn’t cause any fuss.

All I can say about Calvin and Hobbes is that profoundness along with humour were a given.  If I missed a day, (and this was pre-internet) I was crushed and recovery was a hard road.

I miss you Calvin and Hobbes.

Commuting Distractions: An E-Reader Update

I used my e-reader for the first time today.  I spent a relatively brief time downloading free e-books from the Kobo website.  I spent a much longer time trying to find available (and free) books from the library.  The first of those tasks was fruitful and I now have about 31 books to read.  The second was difficult because anything I wanted was too popular and was subsequently checked out.  In addition, some of the waiting lists were so long that I didn’t feel inspired to get on them.

As far as reading goes, it seemed rather comfortable.  It certainly took less effort to turn the page–unbelievable to think of all the energy I wasted turning pages the old fashioned way.  (I guess I can take solace in the fact that I probably burned a few calories the old way)

My first book was a bummer.  It was really short (I read it in about 30 minutes) It wasn’t particularly well written, but since it was free, I really shouldn’t complain.  I am on the second book, and all is progressing nicely.  It is better written, and managed to keep my attention for most of the trip home.

I don’t seem to have any eye strain, and the e-reader is probably lighter than any book I have ever carried on the bus, so I shouldn’t experience any muscle pain.  If I have misjudged this, I will probably wake up tomorrow with an incredible headache.

The only negative thing about the device so far is that way it counts pages.  In a single commuting session, I read about 200 e-reader pages.  I take pride in my reading speed, but that seems rather fast.  The pages are small, so you blast through a lot of them.

I talked to a woman on my bus and one of those George R. R. Martin books clocks in at over 1000 pages.  Keeping that in mind, I was temped to download Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, but that would most likely surpass 2000 pages.

Time will tell if this device will replace books for me.  Most likely I will still go to the library to check out books from time to time.  I can’t imagine my life without periodic pilgrimages to the library.

a mini review


The Book
When looking for a good book for the bus, a captivating story is the most important thing.  The book Waterlandby Graham Swift certainly fits that description.  The story is cross between coming of age novel ( as a Canadian I should let you know we love that kind of thing) and a historical fiction novel.
The story flows back and forth(through time ) effortlessly, perhaps modelled on the twisting river that provides the backdrop to the story.  The distant past is tangled up with the present and the recent past is tangled up with the future.  It is a very good novel.
The story of Crick, the teacher appealed to me because he was no Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society.  He was a teacher, striving to balance his life and his job with a very foreboding future.  He teaches history, but his history class learns about a more personal history.  It is a history full of mistakes, regrets, jealousies, joys, relationships and tiny victories.  It is a solid read, and is perfect for a commute to work.

The Movie



The book was made into a less than stellar film–Despite casting the brilliant Jeremy Irons to play the lead, and have him supported by a young Ethan Hawke.  If I had to fault the film, it was just that the book was so good.  It would take a phenomenal effort to bring it to screen the way the words bring it to life.
I bought the book in Osaka.  It was my first trip to Kinokuniya Book Store,  I took the book home and read it sitting on the floor in my living room drinking beer from large brown bottles.
I lost the book (not exactly true–but you’ll understand soon enough) when my Australian roommate moved out and hadn’t finished the book.  I wanted to keep it, but he wasn’t done with it, so I let him take it.  I don’t really regret it, but I hope he liked it and finished it.