A Question of Money

I was listening to a radio programme yesterday on the CBC Radio.  A man who was a huge collector or something (I am not quite clear what it was because I picked up the programme as it was finishing) was talking about his spending contract with his wife.  He had written a contract that specified how much he could spend a month on his hobby.

The hosts took him fairly seriously and the guest didn’t take himself too seriously.  He also explained that he often broke the budget for “special sales/events” that fell outside of the contract.

It got me thinking about how I spend money on hobbies.  I don’t really have a budget.  I control my spending the old fashioned way….fear that I won’t be able to eat if I spend too much.

Then I started thinking about my hobbies and which ones cost the most money, which ones cost more money than I expected.  Cycling has been the least expensive.  Once I bought the bike, except for some clothes and some nutritional supplements, there isn’t a huge ongoing cost.  Of course, going on cycling trips, which I have done, costs money.  Of course, I think of these as vacations, totally unrelated to my club cycling.

I balked at stamp collecting because it seemed like something that my start off small, but grow to something huge if left unchecked.  You might start off collecting one country and used stamps and then up trying to collect the world in mint stamps.  Deluxe books for stamps cost a small fortune, not to mention inventory software and travel to stamp shows.

I suppose coins are much the same.  The book to house the almost one hundred years of the Canadian penny is probably worth more than the pennies themselves.

Hockey cards seem to have so many sets and special cards that you’d be through your budget in no time.

I suppose all collections start like that.  They start small, but they grow.  Suddenly you are spending more money on storing the collection and reading about the collection than actually collecting.

How do you set a budget for whatever your hobby is?  Is it a monthly amount or a yearly amount?


Jessica Jones


Like most people (or at least a heck of a lot of people) I enjoyed watching Jessica Jones on Netflix.  It took me longer than most because I watched it at a Friend’s house over a couple of different weekends while drinking beer into the late hours of the evening.

Shortly there after, that same friend loaned me the compilation comic books of Jessica Jones. These are titled Jessica Jones:  Alias.

I have been a fan of Brian Michael Bendis since I collected some of his Avengers comics …I don’t even remember when that was. I definitely can see his style of writing (and dialogue) in these comics.  So far I am enjoying them quite a bit.  The conversation between Jessica Jones and Carol Danvers about the Ant Man was priceless.

The art is pretty dark and moody.  The lines aren’t too crisp, but since Jessica walks around in a bit of an alcoholic haze of indifference, I am pretty sure it is intentional.  I generally prefer something a bit crisper…but I can see the value in what was done for these books.

I can definitely see how the subdued nature of the comics translated into a darker form for the Netflix series. I haven’t read the issues in which the purple man is featured, but I look forward to it.

It was nice to read comics again. I don’t need to wax nostalgic about it, since it hasn’t been that long since I read some.  However, it isn’t one of my regular hobbies these days.  Maybe it is a space issue.


A Great Time To Be A Nerd


“It’s a great time to be a nerd.”

That was a direct quote from one of my colleagues.  He is far from nerdy, but his inner nerd child does show itself from time to time.

I guess he is right.  We’ve got superhero television shows and movie franchises all over the place.  Grade A actors are practically begging to be in these movies.  I just came back from a sold out viewing of the Avengers: The Age of Ultron and there were lots of different people in the theatre.  There were families, and girls, women.

Where was this when I was growing up?  I remember walking into the Silver Snail and not even seeing one woman, let alone the dozens I saw today.  When the few of my friends who managed to have girlfriends even mentioned comic books they got killer eye rolls.  Now, those same friends have wives that are reserving tickets for them.

The times they are a changing.  Can’t fault Bob on his logic, but did he really envision such an incredible change?

Maybe it is the technology.  We can put things on the movie screen that we never could before.  We can depict the fantastic so well that real life seems dull by comparison.  I’m not complaining, but my bus ride to work will never be the same.

I won’t spoil the movie for anyone reading.  I saw it.  I enjoyed it.  I may have to go and see it again.

An Easy Place to Have a Conversation

I don’t spend a lot of time talking to random people in public.  I am friendly, just not that outgoing.  I don’t really want to bother people.  The funny thing is, that usually doesn’t apply to visits to the hobby store.  In the hobby store, or at hobby shows, I find myself drawn into all kinds of conversations–sometimes not even about hobbies.

If I had to guess, I would say that there is something special about hobby shops.  The atmosphere lends itself to conversations that you might not otherwise have.  This is true of other hobby related shops as well.  I have had some rather interesting conversations at comic books stores…but since everyone has seen episodes of The Big Bang Theory, this is no longer a nerd only shared mystery.  Some people might think that the show is an exaggeration…..how wrong they would be.

The hobby shop, or comic book shop, or some other specialist shop, is an easy place to have a conversation.  Most people have too much knowledge to contain within themselves for too long, so they have to let it out.  Most of the time the advice I have received has been wonderful and amazing.  Some times I took it, and sometimes I didn’t–sometimes that was a smart move, and sometimes I regret not taking it….such is life.

The most interesting of these times for me were in Japan.  Hobby nerd that I am –I wish I could say hobby professional, but until this blog is seen by thousands I day, I can’t really do that….. but I digress.  Hobby nerd that I am, I have been to hobby shops in Japan.  I have been to model shops, train shops, electronic shops.  Yes, I have been to the nerd Mecca of Akihabara.  My Japanese is pretty good, but I always feel better when I can strike up a conversation in a hobby shop.  I come away feeling pretty good about my skills, and I have usually picked up quite a few words to add to my vocabulary.

For those of you who are even less outgoing than myself, but still want to strike up a conversation, I suggest wondering something out loud.  It should work like a charm.

The Post Christmas Hobby Blues

January seemed to fly by.  Before you know it we will be in February.  Yes, we have the spectacular Groundhog Day to look forward to, but …. things seem to be moving too fast.

I realized, perhaps too late, that I had fallen victim to “the post Christmas hobby blues.”  It happens every year, or almost every year.  Christmas brings on many hobby opportunities, some self indulgent hobby spending, and some very ambitious plans for the upcoming year.  January sees all of these things fall by the wayside.

What is it about January?  Is it the worry that I should be in the gym like every other resolution maker (and breaker) or is it the amount of snow I should be shovelling?  Is it sobering reflection on that aforementioned self indulgent spending?  Is it that there won’t be any new nanoblock releases for a few months?  In truth, I am not really sure what it is.  I know it’s real, but I don’t know the cause.

I would love to hear from the rest of the hobby world.  Are any of you experiencing the post Christmas hobby blues?

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?

Comic Books, Prices and Priceless

Why do comic books have to cost so much money (and why do any books have to cost so much for that matter.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging literacy instead of discouraging it?

I went to my local bookstore, and found myself looking at the latest comics as well as their repackaged (and now hardcover) versions.  I must say the art looks great, and the production seems pretty slick, but the price left me gasping for air.  Comics were about a dollar when I was growing up, but now they are closer to five dollars.

We live in a modern world, and you would think that the technology for printing and binding books would be much more advanced, and also cheaper.  As the price of comic books, and regular books for that matter, has increased over the last decade, I am left to conclude that this is indeed not true.

I guess I should look at it another way.  Maybe now creators, writers, artists, and all the other people involved in producing the books are making more money now.  Maybe this means that they can focus on a smaller number of books in order to survive.  This should me better quality, but probably not a better price.

I still like my comic books and I am a sucker for any superhero movie that hits the big screen.  I think the genre is largely untapped, and there is a lot of room to grow.  I am sure we can count on sequels to the Avengers, Iron man, Spiderman, and The Xmen.  There is also likely to be other major superhero movies, but I don’t know which ones they are yet.

I would love to have a big collection of books, but that doesn’t seem likely.  Both space and monetary considerations make this less likely than I thought in my past.  If I filled up the guest room with comics where would my family sleep when they were visiting?