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?

 

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Getting Ready for Cooler Weather

trainer

Cycling seems to have taken over most of my hobbies this past summer. While I have done other hobby things, I have put more passion, time and energy into cycling. My strength and stamina are definitely way up. Sadly, my weight has not improved. This is because I have not been able to break up with pizza. Diet is crucial….but that is a blog for another day (and a different site–see here)

Autumn is here and winter is coming. Traditionally, owing to wonderfully frigid temperatures, around here people tend to hibernate more.   For a hobbyist this means getting into indoor pursuits. I can look forward to more time with the models, more time with the trains, more time watching hockey…..

While all of this sounds wonderful, it sounds as if all the gains I made in stamina and energy might go to waste. It is with that in mind that I contemplate spending a big chunk (perhaps the whole chunk) of my hobby budget on a cycling trainer. I am not talking about your average stationary bike. I am talking about using my road bike as my exercise bike for the winter.

The advantages

  • I will use the muscles that I have to use when riding on road courses–unlike a stationary bike, which is great for fitness but isn’t really my bike and won’t work exactly the same muscles.
  • I will better simulate my cycling because I will be wearing my cycling shoes and practice full pedal strokes.
  • The trainer itself will take up much less room that a stationary bike does during the summer when I am not using it. (or using it less)
  • On rainy days, if I elect not go out for a ride, I can still use the trainer.
  • There seem to be quite a few apps that work in conjunction with this–not that I have a smart phone, but ……someday. Either that, or I will set up a tablet.
  • Riding the same saddle all winter should make it less of an adjustment when I get out riding again.

The disadvantages

  • While there are cheaper options the one I have pretty much decided on is a significant amount of money.
  • If I am lazy, it will not have been money well spent. I love going out for the group rides, but I am unsure if I can push myself to workout alone. If I don’t use the machine, it will definitely make me feel guilty as I watch TV and gorge on pizza.
  • I will have to invest in a “training tire” as these machines will definitely put substantial wear on my rear tire.

While nothing has been decided, this is definitely where my head is at right now.  I guess another option is to bike all winter.  This sounds rather hard to me, but one of my favourite bloggers does just that.  If that sounds interesting (or mildly insane), take a look at her blog.

Another tool? Really?

And I bought new gloves too.
 
I think it is well chronicled on these pages that I have a weakness for tools.  I’ve written a number of posts about it, and taken more pictures than I should.  I also have to admit that I open the Canadian Tire and Home Hardware flyers first–well before the food.  Whenever I visit those stores, I always walk around the tool sections, hefting the wrenches and drills when opportunity allows.

So it should come as no surprise that bike ownership can also include some tools.

When I purchased the bike, I asked what tools I would need–this is probably the kind of words a salesman dreams of hearing.  However, they said I would need a pump, a multi tool and some tire levers.  The assured me the bike comes with a several tune-ups and there was much less maintenance than a mountain bike.

Being at the bike show, I couldn’t resist picking up this tool.  Will I need it?  Doubtless, there are ways to measure chain wear without this tool–but …..tools are cool.  I like tools. 
 
As you can see, it was a moment of weakness.  Fortunately for me, it isn’t a big ticket item, and it didn’t break the bank.  It was cheaper than I have seen it at bike shops and even online shops.  It isn’t like I bought the entire Park Tool Master Kit.

At the Bike Show

 
There is something about going to a bicycle show that really gets my heart pumping.  I go to walk through row up on row of bikes and stuff.  There were mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes and cross bikes.  There were tools, tires, clothes and helmets.  The best way to describe it would be to call it a toy store for adults.
The only thing that bothered me was the entry price.  I find it rather unfair that one has to pay to go shopping.  It is like having a daily admission price to Costco.  The price was 15 dollars, and I would rather have spent that money on something else.  However, I know there are a lot of costs in putting a show like that on (security, rentals etc) but they could have at least given us a break on the food.
I would have to say that cycling is rather popular.  There were so many people who were interested in cycling.  And most of them were also very friendly.
I didn’t go to the show to shop, but rather to find out about cycling vacations.  I am really interested in going on a cycling trip somewhere.  I collected quite a few route maps and found quite a few cycling destinations.  Now I just have to get in shape because some of the routes seem rather ambitious.
As for swag–I was hoping for more.  I came home with lots of trail and route maps, some back issues of magazines and even a tool catalogue.  However, I was expecting more.  I hoped for some socks, or a t-shirt, maybe a free water bottle… something.   I guess it isn’t a car show.

Cycling: What I Have Learned So Far

As I push ever farther into the world of cycling I have learned lots of fascinating things.  I have been thinking of getting a new bike, but with winter approaching (add as many Game of Thrones quotes as you want here) I am wondering if I should wait.  As a result of this indecision, I have been doing a lot of research.

Ø      Not far from where I live, there exists a 15 km or so (it is longer, but construction issues for bridges and such has blocked off part of the trail until next year).  I have ridden it a couple of times and it was amazing.  If you want to read about my ride and see some great pictures, please click on the link here: http://todaysperfectmoment.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/august-24-2014-the-nokiidaa-trail/

Ø      There are a huge number of bike shops in my area, and along my commute path, and near my work.  I had no idea cycling was so popular.  When I was young, only children rode bikes.  The upside of this is lots of places to shop.  The downside is that even places which sold reasonable bikes now have some higher end bikes, and prices seem quite high.  I mean, I have seen bikes which cost as much as my car did when I bought it new.

Ø      There are a lot of magazines devoted to the hobby/pursuit.  I have counted about 10, and I am sure there are more.  That’s incredible.  Whoever said the printing medium was done was obviously wrong.  Despite the complaints of these magazines just being glossy catalogues that push expensive and unnecessary products on the gullible, there is some decent writing between the pages.

Ø      There is a crapload of extras for the cycling crowd.  Is all of it necessary?  Of course not.  Is some of it vanity driven?  Absolutely.   Does it affect me….. sadly, I have to answer yes.

Ø      I like riding a bike much more than going to a gym.  Seems pretty obvious, but that is what fuels the decision to buy a nice bike.  Living in a climate which produces bone chilling cold and snow for a large part of the year doesn’t help.

Summing it all up.  I am definitely interested in this hobby.  Where I take it from here, only time will tell.

RIP Television

 
Is television finished?  Of course it isn’t, but are we in the midst of its decline?

I was out riding my bike around today, trying to decided if I should buy a new TV.  I found a couple that I am interested in, and if I bought them today, I wouldn’t have to pay tax.  I couldn’t decide if I should spend 900 bucks on a new TV and sound equipment, or if I should save the money for the cool bike that I want to buy.  (feel free to comment–but I have about 1 hour to make this decision).

While riding I stopped to talk to a woman who was also riding, but taking a rest.  She mentioned that she loved watching Netflix on her laptop, and was planning on throwing out her TV.  I didn’t ask her if she would give it to me, but not that I think about it, maybe I should have.

The point being, I know a lot of people would rather pay a small fee and their internet provider rather than traditional cable.  If they had sports on Netflix, I am sure a lot of us would do the same.  If they make more TV series for Netflix only, would more people rather watch them?  I don’t have the answers to these questions–and I am still wrestling with the TV debate, but I guess only time will tell.   Maybe this is the beginning of the end of television as we know it.

Hobbies Lead to Tool Lust

Once again I find myself in a hobby conundrum.  The only good thing is that I recognize it, and might be able to escape this one.  However, I am not really sure.

I used to love riding my bicycle.  I rode all over the place.  This might have a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t have a car, but I am pretty sure that isn’t all of it.  I know I loved the feeling of speed and power.  I remember once thinking I could be in the Tour de France.  I was never that good, but every boy has to dream.

I have always owned a bike.  When I had a job as a teenager, I took my bike to work every day.  If I had the choice of bus or cycle, I always chose cycle.  When I lived in Japan I bought a bike on a whim and had to carry it home on a very packed subway and train.  This was the kind of thing I did.  I never second guessed decisions like that. 

Lately, I have been thinking about getting back on my bike before the dust in the garage consumes it completely.  It would certainly help with the fitness part of my diet.  Of course, being dusty, it is going to require a bit of maintenance, and that is where the dilemma comes from.  I could pay someone to do it for me, or I could do it myself.
I know that I would rather do it myself.  Yes, it is a mechanical job, but it doesn’t seem that hard.  So, I did what I always do.  I checked the internet and found lots of good resources and tools.  Do you see where I am going with this?

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I have tool equipment lust to a terribly high degree.  Sometimes, I love hobby tools more than the hobby itself.  I thought I was strange, but after reading other blogs and internet forums, I know I am not the only one.  Plus, I am one of those guys.  I think tools are cool.  I want them, and I want good ones.

My current lust features two things:  A bike stand for working on the bike, and a dedicated set of tools.  Of course, there are some really flashy ones out there, but I have settled on these two.  The fact that they come in sexy anodized blue is just a coincidence–or is it.  Perhaps, I really don’t need these things, but I scratched the itch, and I am now I am starting to obsess.

I probably have enough tools that I only need a few specialized ones to do any repair that I want.  I also don’t need sexy blue tools.  Plain ones will do.  As for the bike stand, while not necessary, it certainly would be handy.

The next deadly step is to go to a bike shop (rather than the internet) to see what they have.  I might succumb and regret it, but what else can I do.