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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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.

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.

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.

Hi Soft Caramels

Long time readers (I am allowed to say that now, aren’t I? It has almost been a year) will know that I have more than a passing affinity for Japan.  I consider it my second home, and I try hard to maintain my connections to it.  When it comes to hobbies, Japanis Nirvana.  In no other place are you allowed, perhaps encouraged is a better word, to deeply develop your hobbies.

Today’s entry isn’t about hobbies in Japan, but rather just a shot of some caramels that I bought today.  I visited the Japanese grocery store to have some lunch and to see what kind of stuff they had for sale.  I don’t get there as often as I used to, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Today, I picked up some candy.  Today I picked up one of my favourite candies.

When I was a kid Kraft used to sell toffee, or caramels.  I distinctly remember the pink or blue wrappers as well as the clear cellophane ones.  I googled, but couldn’t find the coloured wrapper ones.  Maybe I am imagining it.

Back to the Japanese caramels.  I am not sure why I started buying them in Japan.  Perhaps the name attracted me.  Perhaps I was feeling like a daredevil (in Japan this can lead to wonderfully good surprises–coffee milkshakes, to super epic fails–fish and corn filled buns).  Perhaps I figured there would be chocolate in the box.  Whatever the reason, I have loved them ever since.  I have consumed many boxes of them.  I consumed them in Japan, and since coming back.

They used to have a small picture card inside the box.  I thought those days were gone, but the box that I bought had a picture of a cat from Shimane Prefecture.  Maybe they are reviving the tradition.  One day, like the phone cards, I will scan in my collection of these cards.

If you’re ever in Japan, or in an Asian supermarket, be sure and try them out.  If you are interested in Japanese treats, there are some great blogs.  My favourite is by the same blogger who writes about the “things that she will and won’t miss when leaving Japan.”  You can find a link to it on the right hand side of this blog.

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

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.