Goodbye Polly Scale
I made up a word….I’m an English teacher, I do that all the time.  Besides, it really fits the topic of this blog.  As a hobbyist, you have lots to cope with.  Of course those things include time, money, frustrations, small parts, and delays in delivery.  The one that seems to bother me the most are discontinuations.

Discontinuations refer to products you want to buy no longer being sold, and there being almost no way to get them.  It’s like going to a Japanese convenience store.  You continually buy a product, only to discover one day that it is gone, and it’s not coming back.  You thought by buying them that you’d send a message to the manufacturer that they should keep making it, but you were wrong.

This happens to TV shows that you love.  You think it’s great, but you might be the only one.  I loved Firefly, and though I know I am not the only one, they killed it.  I loved an 80’s TV show called Shell Game, but it didn’t live past five episodes.

For the hobbyist, what usually happens follows two patterns.  In pattern one, the hobbyist waits to buy something.  Maybe they don’t have the money (usually my case) or they are hoping to score a better deal somewhere down the line, or they just put some other item ahead of it in the queue.  Regardless, when they finally decide to make the purchase, it’s gone.  Lone gone.  They scour the internet and every hobby shop they can find, but to no avail.

The other pattern is that the hobbyist uses something religiously.  They come to depend on it, perhaps even take its availability for granted.  Then one day, it is gone.  The manufacturer has discontinued it.  There were probably warning signs.  There might have been announcement in the various magazines that cater to the hobby.  Perhaps someone had remarked on it in an internet bulletin board.  Had they taken the news to heart they would probably have known about it and stocked up.

Recently, the paint that I have been using for my model train buildings has been discontinued.  What does that mean?  It means that I will have to use something else.  I really shouldn’t worry because there are lots of paint manufacturers out there.  Any day now, that same company will probably announce a replacement.  Even if it doesn’t, the hobby store will have to find a new supplier, because paint is an integral part of the hobby store.

The uncertainty is frustrating.  When will it happen?  When will it be resolved.  I am not a great enough painter that I have such a detailed understanding of paint or the different characteristics of paint.  I buy what they tell me is good at the hobby shop or they talk about in the magazines.  It’s just a minor annoyance.  However, there are hobbyists who have mastered the characteristics of a particular paint brand and are probably going to be frustrated.  They are going to flood the hobby chat rooms and bulletin boards, announcing Armageddon.    I will quietly sympathize, and hope that my paint supply doesn’t run out soon.

Easy Isn’t Better

I like mental puzzles.  I take great pride in my ability to do things like Sudoku, or logic puzzles, or codewords, or crosswords.  I do them at home, on lunch breaks, and even in the bus on the way to and from work.  This takes a bit more skill because sometimes the bumps on the road come exactly when I am writing down a crucial word or number.  This doesn’t really bother me though.  It isn’t the greatest frustration that I have.  The greatest frustration comes when crossword puzzles are too easy, too predictable, or seemingly rather lazy.

A couple of years ago at my work, several people used to do the crossword puzzle as a group.  They enjoyed doing it…but after a while they had to mix things up.  I came upon them one day and witnessed a strange scene.  The person holding the puzzle said the answers and they had to guess the clues.  They were quite proficient at it.  I guess the puzzles had gotten rather predictable.

As of late, the puzzles that I am doing (featured in the “free” newspaper) have been full of lazy clues.  So many of them are suffixes and prefixes, or words that wouldn’t normally need an s–but do in this case only.  One TV show (How I Met Your Mother) has the main character saying they always use the same clue because they need the vowels–I didn’t realize how true that was.

For the next week, I won’t be doing the crossword puzzle, because it has become too predictable.  I could blame it on myself.  I am the one who chose to do the “free” puzzles.  If I were smarter, I would go to the bookstore and get a book of tough crosswords.  Then, at least, I wouldn’t complain about easy and lazy crosswords. 

So Many Cords and Cables

The modern world is an amazing place.  We can do so much more than the generation before.  The only thing is that all of this needs electricity.  No, this isn’t a rant against nuclear power (for rants please see my other blog “The Octagonal Peg” located in the blogs I follow section located at the lower right).  Instead, I just want to lament the need for so many cords and cables.  So, so many cords and cables.

As a modern hobbyist, I have a ton of cords, a ton.  I’ve got adaptors for power for computers, DVD players, video games, tools, soldering irons, battery chargers, air compressors, and train power.  That isn’t really bad, because everyone has cords.  The problem is that I have to also include the staggering amount of USB cords I have.

USB stands for universal serial bus.  Clever acronym, but I have to take issue with the word universal.  Indeed, from the computer connection, it is universal.  Everyone I have fits into the USB slot in my computer.  The problem is, though, every single one of them has a different end that fits into the device.  So, for every modern, cool, hi-tech piece of equipment I have, I have another USB cable.  Perhaps I should be thankful that they seem to only come in two colours (white and black, though I suspect there are some grey ones out there) but it does make them difficult to distinguish when I am in a hurry.  I don’t want to over dramatize the dilemma, but I think frustration is a word that best categorizes it.

Someday, everything will be wireless.  A lot of things already are.  I should just sit back, complain less, and await this day.  Not really my style, though.  Until that day, as I drown in a sea of cords, cables, and other wires, as I occasionally trip over them, I will voice my concerns.

Decals…..My Nemesis

I am not going to boast about my modeling skills–mostly because I can’t.  I am stuck in the intermediate phase and seemed destined to stay there forever.  On one of my current projects–Jacques Villeneuve’s Formula One car I had been making good progress until I met my nemesis.
My nemesis at car modeling that is…. my sink nemesis is this guy named Martin, and my bus seat nemesis doesn’t have a name, but he has sharp elbows that seem to stick me whenever he is texting someone…. whish is ALL THE TIME!  I seem to be digressing.
My nemesis in car modeling must be decals.  I have lots of good equipment. I have a good set of knives.  I have a steel ruler.  I have a really cool self healing cutting mat (not entirely sure what that is, but it sounds cool).  I’ve even got a full range of tweezers and some setting solution for the decals.  What I don’t have is patience for getting them on strait, judgement to know when to remove them from the water, and delicate fingers to stop them from ripping, folding or disintegrating.
I have, in the past, managed to get the decals on license plates, dashboards, air cleaner covers and manifolds.  As for this car, I have ruined a few, and now feel dejected.  I am not sure I want to finish this model, even though it started out with such good progress.
I wish I could blame the decals.  They seem very thin and fragile.  Maybe they are defective.  If I could comfort myself with that lie, I could probably tell myself the dozens of others that politicians and pseudo academics try to foist on me on a weekly basis.  Sadly, I cannot do that.  It is probably less about principles than practical honesty.
I had such high hopes for this car, but sadly, it may go back in the box to rest for a while.  A long while, if I can’t shake this funk and feeling of frustration.
I used to hate painting car bodies, but the airbrush has made that somewhat easier.  Of course, choosing the right colours and thinning the paint appropriately has also helped that, but I would rather thank the airbrush.  It is just simpler that way.
I used to hate taping walls and baseboards for painting, but the new tape (frog tape I think it is called–they must be competing with duct/duck tape.) has made that easier.
wiring up train tracks and lights used to be a pain, but that has been solved.
So basically, why can’t they make better decals for car models.
On a side note, as an ESL teacher, I am amused by the word decal.  Do you pronounce it /dee-kal/ or /deckle/ ?
these turned out relatively good