Amongst the Darts

I have started playing darts again.  The opportunity came up and I jumped on it.

I just thought it would be nice to share some scenes from the Royal Canadian Legion where we play.

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My singles performance was good, but my team play is a little weak.  I think it is because I don’t like people telling me what number to shoot at. By the time they tell me, I have probably already picked out another number.  Hearing this “new” number really doesn’t help my focus.

On a good note one of my teammates hit a nine count in the game of cricket.  I could explain what that means, but I don’t want to deprive you of the chance to Google that one.

Looking For My First 180

I took the plunge and bought new darts.

This was harder than it sounds. I don’t want to end up as one of those people who has multiple sets of darts and can’t choose which ones to use.  There is one guy at the club who I watched change which darts he was using more than four times in one night.  He seemed dissatisfied with all of them.  It made me think that the darts probably weren’t the problem.

I could have bought these darts through eBay or some other website (though not Amazon) but I chose to go to my local games store. This was fun as the owner is quite talkative and quite fun. I am a big believer in supporting local enterprises.

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It also gives me a chance to see what other things he has for sale. This usually includes video games, poker tables, pool tables, and of course interesting dart accessories. Did you know that they have a special dartboard with smaller beds to help you improve your aim?  Ever heard of dart golf?

I bought some different shafts and flights to compliment my darts and to make it easy to distinguish them from my previous set at a glance.

My trip to the shop was fun. Sadly, he sells very few pinball machines anymore.

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I wouldn’t mind having this on in the man cave

Sharpen the Points

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That’s right.  It’s time to sharpen the points because summer darts season starts tonight.  For some of you that might not sound so colossal, but it sounds great to me.  I like darts and I like the friendly competition that goes with it.  I like the dim lights of the Legion and the reasonably priced beer that goes with it.

The winter season did not go horribly well for me.  I was firmly at the bottom of the league rankings.  Whenever I won, the people above me did to and I couldn’t move up.  My game was less than stellar until the very last weeks.  Unfortunately, ground lost was hard to make up.darts

This represents a new start.  I haven’t picked up a dart in about a month, so I don’t expect Phil Taylor or Michael Van Gerwin kind of genius.  I’d settle for not getting my ass kicked.

For those of you out there who’ve seen the hard to quantify spectacle on television, my league isn’t like that at all.  No models walk us to the line, no fans watch dressed in costume and 180’s, while not unheard of, are far from the norm.  If you’ve got a spare evening, I would suggest you take it up.

What One Season of Darts Has Taught Me

 
My first season of darts is over and I see a need to reflect on it.  There were highs and lows, and some genuinely warm moments.  I decided to play darts in February after watching it on TV.  I joined two leagues and three months later, my latest obsession is still going strong.

Apparently there are two seasons of darts.  Fall through spring, and summer.  As you might guess, the summer season is only about half as long as the other season.  I guess lots of people go on holiday in the summer, so I don’t expect the shortened season to be as serious, or as well attended.

What I have learned:

Ø      Darts, like many other activities, gets better with practice.  In the past few weeks my three dart average has increased, and my ability to hit doubles and triples has gotten better.

Ø      Competition makes you better.  Despite not being that competitive, wanting to win makes me a better player.  Unlike some, I don’t get down on other players, and try not to let my performance get to me.

Ø      With any activity there is a whole new lexicon to learn.  Without knowing it, I have added a lot of dart related words to my vocabulary, much to the chagrin of my coworkers.  Of course, they use a lot of ESL related vocabulary that other people in their lives don’t understand….so it’s pretty much a wash.  I throw around words and phrases like treble, three in a bed, checkout, double out, oche, flights, sisal, double bull, 9-darter and so many others. 

Ø      Leagues only work because so many people put in a lot of work.  Casual or not, a lot of organization and stats keeping is needed to keep the league going.  It seems like a lot of the people who I play with are retired, but it still requires a lot of their time.  Thanks.

Ø      The temptation to buy lots of equipment exists whenever you start a new hobby or pastime.  Fortunately, I have resisted the urge to spend a lot of money.  I’ve got some darts, a board at home, a small case for the darts, and a few extra parts.  Most people I have seen have several sets of darts, a rather large executive case, a large number of spare parts, and various tools.  Knowing me the way I do, I am sure I will get there, but for now, I am keeping it simple.

Ø      There are a variety of people and people types involved.  While most of my experiences have been good, some have been bad, and I have to accept that clashes will happen in the future.  Hopefully calm heads and rational thinking will prevail.

Ø      There is a huge world of darts out there.  There are professional leagues and huge tournaments.  I have only encountered the tip of the iceberg.  I may or may not make that big jump in the next year. While being a professional anything appeals to me, I know there are drawbacks to taking something you enjoy to a level like that.  Friendly competition is good, but intense competition may not be so great.

I have enjoyed darts, and I will be playing summer darts.  I will let you know how that goes.

The State of my Hobbies (part one)

 
 
I don’t want to jinx it, but it certainly seems like spring is underway.  The snow is almost gone and things are looking up.  The only question for this blog is to address the hobbies.  We will call this part one–because I am sure I will miss something.

Darts

This is going well.  I have progressed well and I have several playoff games upcoming.  I have most enjoyed my darts season and will definitely continue it.  My biggest obstacle is that I don’t have my board up yet.  I am wavering between installation methods, causing a complete lack of home progress.

Nanoblocks/Loz blocks

There are a few kits I have my eyes on, but I haven’t stepped up and got them yet.  My display space is pretty much taken up.  Until I do some reorganizing, this may stay on hold.  Of course this would change if Toys R Us carried more of these kits.  I am much more likely to buy on impulse when I am out than when I am surfing the web.

Trains

I have lots of train projects on the go, just nothing completed.  I had big plans for this weekend before illness caused me to slow down–don’t worry, I’ve just got a cold and don’t have the energy to concentrate on stuff.  Even writing this short blog requires frequent rests.

Reading

I have decided to try reading some harder books.  What I mean by that is I am trying to read some more challenging books.  I am on pace to read about 60 books this year.  I decided that I would try and read some Pulitzer or Man Booker prize winners.  It would be great if I could read them all, and I might make that a goal next year.  The current book I am reading is Ghost Written by David Mitchell.  It is very well done and I recommend that anyone looking for a good book to read it.

Puzzles

I still do the crossword puzzle every day, but the one I am doing is only challenging because they have a lot of geographical clues and modern music clues that I have no idea about.  I can usually solve it, but I get frustrated at some of the “cheap” clues they give.  I haven’t done any Sudoku puzzles lately, nor any logic puzzles.  Maybe spring will reawaken these pursuits.

Writing

I am hoping to do more of this.  I still harbour the dream of being novelist/writer.  What I have learned is that it really depends on me and my discipline.  Of course I could say that about a lot of things.  I won’t let go of this dream.

Blogging

This is something I enjoy a lot.  The truth is, I haven’t written as much as I would have liked.  My students seem to enjoy my English teaching blog.  Unfortunately, I have to spend a bit of time reminding them to read it on Facebook. I will need to find ways to attract more people to this blog.  Maybe I will have to write about more controversial topics…..or Justin Bieber.

Gardening Landscaping

Though this may be a hobby for some, it really means work for me.  I have at least a week or two before I need to start on this, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to start getting the supplies.  I cut the grass far less than I had to shovel snow, so this really isn’t a problem.

Killjoys, Jerks and Doucebags

 
 
In the past, I have written how great it is to interact with people in hobbies.  This includes strangers met at shows or conventions, or in hobby shops.  This also includes meeting people at events where you do your hobbies.  I didn’t lie to you.  There are many great people in the aforementioned places.  I just wasn’t entirely honest either.  Amongst the great and cool, there are a bunch of complete…hmmm, what is the right word….douche bags. 

Sorry if I offend, but someone has to candidly set the record straight.  Additionally, there are quite a few other words I contemplated using, but chose not to.  I guess I should stick with my original title and call them killjoys. 

My most recent encounter with a killjoy comes from my latest obsession-darts.  This person criticized my behaviour.  While they had some valid points, they overlooked several things.  First, I am new, and don’t know all the etiquette of the darting world.  Two, rather than instruct, they chose to criticize.  Third, they chose to take their darting seriously despite being a spare player and holding me to a level of etiquette they did not afford me when I was throwing.  I followed their example.  I guess what was good enough for me, was not good enough for them.

I am not the most confrontational of people, but I am no doormat either.  I can give as good (or better) than I get.  I have lots of weapons in my arsenal, and very little restraint.  Regardless of that, basically this person ruined a good night at the oche.  I left feeling rather upset.  In conversation with other darters, they all said the same thing.  There’s always one, or rather, two.  One on your team, and one on the other team.  I guess.

Basically there are some great people out there who will share their love of hobbies with you, but just like real life, there are going to be jerks out there who ruin things for you.  While this particular jerk ruined my night, they won’t ruin my season.  I will continue, and if necessary stand my ground against people like that. 

Maybe in future blogs I will talk more about the archetypical jerks you can find in hobbies.  Feel free to add your own stories.

Advice Overload

 
 
In my last blog I wrote about the dilemma of choosing between an e-tailer and a retailer.  I should let it be known that I purchased my darts from a retail store–a seemingly one person operation.  I bought less expensive darts than I planned as a result of talking to this person.  Yes, that’s right, he undersold me.  I have never had that happen before.

One of the interesting things that the salesperson told me was to “beware of all the advice people want to give you.” 

I have been thinking of that ever since.  Not because people have inundated me with information and “tips” on how to play better darts.  In fact, most people have been encouraging rather than discouraging.  Nobody has told me what to do.  If I want that kind of advice, I am going to have to ask for it.

However, the warning still holds true, but it needs to be modified.  Yes, I am sure lots of people will want to give me advice, but I also bring it upon myself.  By joining a darts chat room, I am sure I will get exposed to lots of “expert” opinions.  By searching our reviews of product, I will be exposed to lots of “expert” opinions.  I can only blame myself.

In my other hobbies, much the same thing happens.  When I wanted to get into RC cars, lots of people to me what to buy, or at least, what not to buy.  They were sure what wasn’t good, but not as clear on what was good.  They had a lot of ideas on how I should spend my money.  Sadly, very few of them agreed, so I was left with lots of information and little direction.

Sometimes these differing opinions are good.  It is good to hear the voices that are debating in your head, actually do it live and in front of you.  It is so much easier to distinguish the truth from the lies, the plausible from the implausible, and the exaggeration from the cynicism.

The dart store owner’s advice is good, but doesn’t help us fight against our nature.  We do things that don’t help us because we overestimate the need for information.  We seek it out, when we should be seeking out experience.

Rethinking the Man Cave

Having watched a lot of shows on the theme of Man Cavesand talked to a lot of guys, I guess there are a lot men who want this kind of room.  I think, at some   I have had visions of pool table, hockey tables, pinball machines and a full standing Galaga machines.  Of course, I also need room for the train set. 

level, I too fall into this category.

No doubt, TV has played a lot into this stereotype.  TV shows have glorified the Man Caveand raised it to an art form.  No longer is the big screen TV and a couple of La-Z- Boys enough.  I remember when the pinnacle of a Man Cavewas a bar fridge.  Oh how times have changed.  Now, you practically have to hire a designer to get things done.  You need a theme, hidden sound systems, and fully integrated remote controls.  Start budgeting now.

What got me thinking of the Man Cavewas my latest obsession.  As anyone who ready my last post knows, I have become hooked on darts.  Darts require a dartboard and some kind of set up, or at least an inconspicuous wall to hang the dartboard on.  It kind of goes with the whole pool table set up.  At least, I think so.  Of course, I may have been conditioned to think so.

Above I mentioned all the things I would like to have in my Man Cave, but the truth is, it is unlikely to ever happen.  I just don’t have the space or the extra money to fulfill this dream.  Yes, if I stopped having hobbies and blowing my money on them, I might have the financial wherewithal to fund the Man Cave–but without the interest in hobbies, there really wouldn’t be a need for a Man Cave.  There would still be a need for a library full of books, though.

A Pointy Dilemma

 
The internet has been a boon to the hobbyist.  We can research things and find things we could never do before.  We can order and receive products without ever leaving the comfort of desk chair.  While I have reflected on this before, it bears repeating and re-examining.  While the hobby industry is benefiting, hobby shops are not.  Hobby shops can’t compete with internet.

In most cases, I tend to side with the hobby store.  I appreciate their knowledge and understand that their costs (actually having a store) are going to be higher than someone on the internet.  That doesn’t stop me from looking and comparing, though.  (As I mentioned before, doing research on a new hobby is almost as exciting as the hobby itself–call it armchair hobbying)  I am mindful of the price difference when I enter the store.  As long as the difference isn’t too great, I most often choose the hobby store.

If you read my last post (If you haven’t go back and read it now.  Read them all now!!–We will call that a desperate plea for readers) you will know that my latest hobby obsession is darts.  I have only played once, and have sunk absolutely no money into it so far.  In fact, the only livelihoods I have supported are the Royal Canadian Legion’s and its employees.  That is if you call drinking a couple of beers at ridiculously low prices support.

I digress (as usual).

I have started looking for darts.  I spent part of yesterday’s snowstorm driving around to all the usual stores seeing what they had.  Alas, what they had really wasn’t much.  In the end, I ended up at a store that had a whole range of darts, dart accessories and dartboards.  It was tucked away in an industrial area.  I probably wouldn’t have found it without the help of Google and Google maps.

I spend a fair bit of time at the store, trying out various darts and talking to the store owner.  He was helpful and knowledgeable and didn’t try to pressure me.  The prices were a little high, but it was a specialty store and they didn’t really have any low end stuff.  After some practice, I settled on a set I planned to buy.  I say planned because I need to wait out the credit card cycle a little.
Being research driven, I came home and searched out these particular darts on the internet, and found them for sale on EBay.  The price with shipping would save me about forty bucks, if I understand the tax laws.  Of course, I might get hit by duty, but how much could it be.  Maybe five dollars?  So I would save only thirty-five.

The dilemma for me is that I appreciate the time the owner spent with me.  I also would like to go back there to buy accessories and whatnot.  I don’t know how many customers they get, but while I was there (a not insignificant amount of time) I was the only customer.  I don’t think he will forget my face, and he might wonder what happened.

If this were some nameless, faceless corporation run out of the mall, I wouldn’t see it as a dilemma.  I would probably have bought them already.  Of course, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time at the store talking to the person either.

Basically, I am asking for your opinions–or if you want to share your experiences.  I know some of you run businesses, so you must give me your honest take on the situation.

 

A New Hobby Called Darts

 
 
So it is a new year, and for the Jack of all Hobbies that can only mean one thing… (actually it means many things involving resolutions, but I won’t bore you with those)….it is time for a new hobby.

A new hobby you shake your heads ponderously.  Of course, I answer.  I am the jack of all hobbies because I pick up and put down hobbies with ease.  This time the hobby is darts.

It all started innocently enough.  I came across a game of darts on a sports channel (I guess there was no poker to be shown) and was instantly mesmerized by it.  I am not sure if it is the dramatic score calling, the hot women accompanying the often overweight and less than handsome dart players, or just the overall skill that allows them to place those darts so accurately.  Despite what you might think, it is probably the last one.

Whenever the mood for a new hobby hits me, I turn to the internet.  The amazing tool that allows me to share with you my stream of consciousness ramblings allows me to fulfill most of my hobby dreams as well.  I have searched the price of darts and a dartboard as well as several other accessories that I had no idea existed.

The real clincher was the local dart league.  I discovered a weekly league playing at the Legion.  A quick email elicited an invitation.  I showed up and the head of the league unhesitatingly loaned me his rather expensive set of darts to practice with.  He spent time giving me pointers (as did several other people) and then invited me to play in that evenings matches.  I would certainly call that hospitality–and it didn’t hurt that the prices for beer at the Legion were incredibly fair.

When asked what kind of darts I should purchase, the same people said they would supply me with darts for the next couple of weeks so I could try different ones out before I spent my money.  Can’t really beat that for an invitation can you?

So now I’ve got darts on my mind, several new websites in my favourites, and several new items on my Amazon wish list.  This all sounds like it is moving in a positive direction.  All that remains is for me to make it out to dart night again.