Stamp Collecting Magazines

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I have been trying to avoid becoming a stamp collector.  Since the hobby is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be, you would think that would be easy.  Financially, I will never be a big time stamp collector, but I think I have dipped my toes into the world of philately.

You see, I bought some stamp collecting magazines.  Why?  Curiosity mostly.  Normally, I would just borrow these things from my library and hopefully get it out of my system without too much cost to myself.  Sadly, my library does not cater to the philatelist.  I could complain, or try to order the material in…but that just seems like a bit too much work.

Today, while browsing through the bookstore I came upon three publications that they sell and decided to buy them.  The British one was the most expensive, but also the thickest.  The Canadian ones were very reasonable, and seem quite packed with information.  I haven’t had time to dig deep into them, but I am sure I will find some interesting things.

Things like this are probably on offer at stamp stores/shops?  collecting stations?  I don’t know what to call those places.  Stamp dealers?  However, there are none in my local area.  I am sure I could find one if I looked in the city.

The bookstore had no books on stamp collecting, but they had magazines.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Despite their size, they don’t seem to carry everything.  Even online bookstores don’t seem to have much.

I suppose I could have just gone online, but I prefer magazines.  I can read them in a variety of places and they are so portable.  Maybe I just prefer the glossy pages to that of the computer screen.

Does this mean I am going to be a stamp collector?  As I said before, unless this blog or my other blog take off and I start to get some extra income, I doubt it.  I will still be fascinated by stamps and what other cultures deem worthy of commemorating this way, though.

I did buy the Formula1 stamps and the Canada 150 stamps.  They looked too good to pass up.  I didn’t buy the Star Trek stamps, though.  Now. if only I could get those Calvin and Hobbes Stamps.

 

 

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What Happened to my Prize

cereal

Whatever happened to toys in cereal boxes?  I remember fighting with my siblings over them.  In fact, we had to institute family rules.

  • The toy had to fall into your bowl before you could claim it
  • No manipulating of the box was allowed (we probably said “no shaking the box”).
  • No opening the new box until the old box was finished.
  • No peaking in the box.
  • No reaching into the box with your hand.

These rules were tough, but family rules were important or chaos would ensue.  I remember once when someone took two chocolate Girl Guide Cookies without taking the corresponding amount in vanilla cookies, which was a complete affront to the rules.  Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Getting back to cereal prizes, what happened?  I have hear several stories and don’t really know which one is true.  If you know the true story, please leave me a comment.  I would like to know.

I have heard that some of the prizes caused injury because they were ingested by unaware cereal eaters.  This seems rather ludicrous because when it came to prizes, I was pretty hyper vigilant to see whether it came into my bowl or not.  Then again, perhaps it wasn’t children that these injuries happened to.  It very well might have been adults who were eating these sugar laden treats.  If these same parents had previously criticized their children’s eating choices, well the irony is just huge then, isn’t it?

I have also heard that in Canada this kind of marketing has been banned by the government.  That sort of makes sense.  I understand the need to protect children from the evil manipulations of advertisers.  However, there seems to be lots of toys marketed to kids at fast food restaurants.  This doesn’t really appear to be in any way different.  It just changes the nagging factor to a fast food restaurant rather than a supermarket aisle.  Since I find myself in the supermarket more often, I can’t really say I mind.

The last thing I have read is that this kind of marketing doesn’t work on kids today and that digital products or product redemption codes seem to work better.  For a certain age group, I really can’t argue with that.  Pre-teens and teens would be rather happy with downloadable content, or gift cards.  As an adult, I have fallen victim to such forms of advertising.  Thanks to Vector cereal I have a bunch of exercise shirts.  That one was even more devious because I had to go to the store and pick them up.  Thank god it was a running store and not a bike store or hobby shop.  They would have had me in their marketing clutches.

In the past, I have received quite a few computer games from cereal combogglepanies.  I thought this was good because the games weren’t violent first person shooters (or anything to do with zombies). Although they weren’t expressly educational, they were games like boggle, or scrabble.  That is to say, they had some redeeming value.

Perhaps it is nostalgia, or perhaps it is the collector in me. (See these posts if you don’t know what I mean)  I like the idea of getting something while eating my morning breakfast.

So, this is what I propose.  Adult cereal should get more giveaways.  These giveaways could include:

  • tools
  • apps
  • magazines (maybe by giving them away for free we can forestall the demise of print media–or maybe they can give away e-versions)
  • bottle openers (you can never have too many)
  • first aid kits
  • lip balm
  • dental floss
  • music
  • books

I am just thinking off the top of my head.  If you have any ideas, do not hesitate to comment.  I would love to know what you think.

Hobby Inspiration from an Unusual Place

It is weird where hobby inspiration comes from.  I get the itch to start a new hobby quite easily.  Often it is from talking to people.  When someone is passionate about something, then you can’t help but be intrigued.  Often it is from television.  Exposing the masses to something will certainly catch some people’s interest.  Most recently for me, it was from a book.
 
Looks pretty and organized.
I started reading Lawrence Block’s Hit Me on a recommendation from a friend.  He had recommended another series by Block, but I couldn’t find them in the library so I settled on this one.  The basic story was that of a contract killer who loves….. wait for it…not alcohol.  Not fast cars.  Not loose women……stamps.
 
The character (his name is Keller) had such passion for stamps.  He also had a lot of knowledge to impart on this impressionable reader.  He detailed the equipment and literature, as well as quite a lot of historical information about stamps.


When I was young I shared a stamp collecting hobby until that person took it over and became obsessed with it.  I don’t even know what became of it afterward–probably someone benefited from it.  Either way, I do remember looking at the stamps and thinking of exotic places.  I loved the themes–trains, cars, paintings, space travel, …. the ideas were endless.  For some countries, it is really interesting to see what they value enough to put on stamps.  Of course, for some countries, they are hoping other people from foreign countries will value them enough to collect them–hence the Disney stamps produced by some countries–I guess some country has already produced a Frozen stamp.  I wonder if that is a big part of their GDP.  (note…I checked, and yes, a stamp already exists)



I would love to have this one.

As for me, yes, there is an itch….but I won’t even scratch this one.  There is just too much out there.  Too many stamps from too many countries.  While the tool collector in me loves the idea of all those specialist tweezers, there is just too much involved.  On top of that, since I really am more interested in the pictures than the collecting aspect, I would be better off buying a full colour catalogue.  I could enjoy the hobby is a much more confined way.

As for the novel….I enjoyed its episodic nature and reading about stamps.  It was entertaining and certainly made my commute more enjoyable.

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.

 

 

The Convenience of a Complete Series

I’ve come to a conclusion–not a shocking conclusion as some would call it, but a conclusion nonetheless.  I would rather watch a complete season of a TV series (or the whole series) on DVD or Netflix, rather than watch the standard TV network offering of one show a week for 24 or 26 weeks a year.

Most people would cite the lack of commercials when claiming that this is obvious.  They wouldn’t be wrong….exactly.  I hate commercials just as much as the next guy, and I am aware that they just aren’t there when I am watching a series on DVD.  However, I don’t think that is the main reason.

The main reason, I believe, is a combination of convenience (as I can watch them at my leisure) and confidence that I will see them all.  Those seem like small things, but they aren’t.  They are huge.

I have watched a number of complete series, and a much larger number of TV seasons.  I was lucky that my local library had the first season of Game of Thrones to watch.  I have seen all the seasons of Dexter, Warehouse 13 and Being Erica all on DVD, all in the comfort of my own home. I watched all of Alias, Hogan’s Heroes, Buffy, and The Outer Limits.

I generally prefer the library as I do not want to become a collector.  I have talked to some people and they suggested “acquiring” these things from the internet and storing them on a massive hard drive.  While that would be convenient, I haven’t reached that line yet, so crossing it seems premature.

If I were to become a collector, I am not sure which series I would absolutely have to own.  I have a great love of Science Fiction, but does that mean I should stick to that genre?  There have been so many great SF series over the years (though not as many lately) that I am not even sure where to start.  Most people take a Star Trek series.  It’s a fine choice, but I think of myself as somewhat removed from that.  I would appreciate a vast Dr. Who collection or Red Dwarf more.  I would love a complete Twilight Zone, or Godzilla movie collection.  Maybe I am too esoteric for my own good.

I started this blog trying to extol the virtues of watching an entire season of a series on DVD and ended up talking about collecting science fiction DVD’s.  I guess we’ll call that par for the course.

The Inadvertent Collection: Part 3

 

There has been quite a lot of positive response to some of my previous posts entitled, The Inadvertent Collection.  I think its popularity resides in the fact that a lot of us have these collections, whether we know it or not.  Since I wrote that initial post, I have found many of these collections in my house.  The post has definitely changed the way I look at my stuff.

 

elegant
Today’s inadvertently collected object is the coffee mug.  My cupboards seem to be bursting with coffee mugs.  Where did the all come from?  Some were bought to drink out of.  Some came in sets of dishes, and due to their small size, or less than desirable design, were consigned to the back of the cupboard, or to the cupboard above the refrigerator.
promotional

 

More than a few are souvenirs from trips I or family and friends took.  It seems that whenever people go away they think the perfect gift is a mug.  It’s easy to see why they got that impression.  The whole tourism industry tells them this when they enter a gift shop.

 

classic throwback design
Of course, I need some to honour my favourite hockey team.  Sports devotion and coffee go hand in hand.  On those warm summer mornings I have to be reminded that my team will take the ice in a few short months. (The irony that this year, these things did not happen is complimented nicely by the bitter taste of the coffee.)

 

Sports and other
My sister doesn’t share the same fate as me.  She has few coffee mugs, despite having the same channels of acquisition that I do.  The truth is, she gets as many cups as I do, but is able to keep her supply limited by breaking them frequently.  I guess it is a fair solution to the problem.

 

 

The Inadvertent Collection Part Two

Having written the first Inadvertent collection, I think I may have cursed myself.  Now, when I look around my house, I wonder if the things I am seeing are, in fact, part of my new inadvertent collection.  Before, I thought I just had stuff.  Now, I wonder if I have indeed collected stuff.  I changed my perspective and probably would have been better off if I hadn’t.
I guess it is too late.

Just some of my dictionaries

Today, while looking for a book on one of my many bookshelves, I started to realize that I have way too many dictionaries.  Perhaps it is because I am an ESL teacher.  Perhaps it is because I have the dream of one day being a fluent Japanese speaker.  Perhaps it is because every kid in Canada who doesn’t speak French is expected to study it.  Whatever the reason, I have more than 20 dictionaries.
Of course I have the English dictionary to help me with crosswords and codeword puzzles when I am completely stumped.  It also comes in handy when challenging someone in Scrabble.

Two hard working, well travelled and used books

I have The French-English Dictionary, and it’s fraternal twin the English-French Dictionary.  I also bought a cool paperback French-French dictionary on the advice of my university French teacher.  Since I often tell my students to put away their smart phone translators and use a real English to English dictionary, I can’t fault her logic.  It did make writing essays easier because example sentences reveal lots of patterns.
The bulk of my collection are Japanese dictionaries.  I have them in portable form, and large, backbreaking format.  I have them written in Kanji, and Romaji.  Of course, I have a dedicated Kanji dictionary (I will never complain about alphabetical order again)  I even have a dictionary of Japanese verbs.  In addition to all that I have moved into the 21st century.  I have a Japanese dictionary in the form of software for my Nintendo DS.  It’s pretty cool.  When it is all said and done, I have a lot of reference material for studying.
One of my favourite dictionaries is my Japanese Loan Word Dictionary.  It contains words from other languages that are used in Japanese.  This is absolutely essential because foreign loadwords are written in the often hard to decipher Katakana, and thought by Japanese people to be easily understood by foreigners.  This is of course not true.  Most Japanese people think that they are all from English.  This is also untrue.  This was a great find.  And oddly enough, where I found it is remarkable.  It was on a discount table at a grocery store.  I got it for 2 or 3 dollars.
I may no longer look at my pile of stuff as just stuff, but at least I be able to find a definition when I need one.