New Nanoblocks

Just in case you were wondering, I haven’t given up on my hobbies.  I am still pursuing them just as they pursue me.

Case in point are the latest additions to my Nanoblocks collection.  While casually browsing through my local Toys R Us (I don’t know how to make that inverted R–probably copyright anyway) I found these two kits on sale.  Since I was gearing up for the Tour de France (Congratulations Chris Froome) it seemed like fate was telling me to buy them.

I am pretty happy with the purchases, but need to figure out where they are going to go once I build them.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, my display space has been co-opted for another use.

I will post pictures when I get them assembled.

My initial reactions on having a spray booth

 
I had been planning on purchasing a spray booth for quite some time.  I finally took the plunge and got it set up in my reorganized hobby room.  (See last post for reorganization)  The booth is portable and sets up pretty easily.  I have the complete venting hose so I can run it outside with only a small window crack, which is important when you are living in Canada and it is winter.

My initial reactions are quite positive.  The things that strike me conclusively are:
  • better air quality  (a major plus!)
  • better visibility with the light attachment
  • less overspray

I have only used it twice, but have felt good about it.  There are some things it doesn’t do.  It doesn’t:
  • improve the way I mix the paint and set the air pressure–improperly mixed paints and incorrect settings cause splotches and poorly atomized paint spray.
  • improve my painting technique–practice makes perfect
  • hide my mistakes–you’ll notice that I didn’t use the macro lens.

I certainly don’t regret my decision.  I have other areas to improve upon, but having the right equipment is not a mistake.

Getting Organized

The first step in getting back to my model hobby is to earnestly get my hobby desk in order.  While that sounds like a good idea, until you have to move about 30 small paint bottles, little by little, you don’t realize that this is a bit of an undertaking.
I have included a before and after shot, just so you can see what I am working with.  It isn’t as brightly lit as I would like…but I shouldn’t complain.  It isn’t like I can’t go buy another lamp.
 

Before
If you are interested in my thoughts on organization, and want to read more, please check out my other blog. https://todaysperfectmoment.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/the-better-organized-me/
It isn’t really about hobbies, but some of the better writing I have done lately is there.
More organized
 

As you can see by the shot, I have made the decision to purchase a spray booth.  From a health perspective, this was a no brainer.  While all of the paints I use say they are “non-toxic” I fear that a phrase like that, translate through lawyers and other legal jargon, really means, “not as toxic as poison, so you can’t sue us, but still not great for your lungs.”  I haven’t used it yet, but hopefully today or tomorrow.




Get an Early Jump on Christmas

 
 
Though I might complain about Christmas being foisted on us way too early, I still think Christmas is important to the hobbyist.  This is the chance to prod someone (gently or not so gently) into getting us what we want.  We can also do our best to try and entice someone into a hobby by selecting a gift that might start a lifetime of hobbying (I will touch on this in a later post).  And if all else fails, we can always justify a bigger expense by telling ourselves (and who ever else we might have to justify the expense to) that this is a Christmas present.

If your special someone is an efficient shopper, they might already be looking for your gift.  You might need to start dropping hints as early as tonight’s dinner.  Some of you might need to start working on that list.  Some of you (the indecisive type) should start making decisions as to what you want.  If you don’t, maybe there won’t be anything under the tree.

If your someone special is a last minute panic shopper, well then you’ve got time.  Lucky you.  Of course if you aren’t around at the moment of that last minute panic, and don’t have your list on your smartphone when they call….. well then, too bad.

The funny thing I find is that whenever you ask people what they want, they often don’t know.  I know this is not true.  If I asked you for ten things you would buy right now if I set you free in a hobby shop with a $50 (or whatever amount) gift card, and said you had ten minutes to get something or the car would expire….I am sure you could get something.  The problem is that people thing a gift has to be something different.  It doesn’t.  A gift is something free.

I know, a gift should be something “you wouldn’t buy for yourself.”  What a silly idea.  If I wouldn’t buy it for myself, I wouldn’t want it.  A gift is something that you want, but can’t justify spending your own money on.  When it’s someone else’s money, it should be easy.

My advice, write down everything you want.  Just that you want it, not that you would or wouldn’t spend the money on it, not that you are or are not going to buy it.  When you’re done, look it over.  Wouldn’t it be nice if someone gave you anything from that list?  If you’re smart, before letting a loved one look over the list you might want to organize it by price, or bundle a bunch of things together that might fit their budget.  Either way, now you’ve got something to tell them to get you.

Thoughts on puzzles

Puzzles are not everyone’s favourite hobby, but I always find time to do a few a year.  The fact that trains are often featured in puzzles is a bonus.  I wouldn’t call it killing two birds with one stone.  That’s silly.  I would call it synergistic….but that’s probably because I was an English major and I need to utilize that expensive (albeit subsidized by the government) vocabulary.

standard assembly…edges first
Puzzles are a pretty solitary hobby with me.  I have known others who treat it as a family activity, but that isn’t the case with me.  Perhaps it’s selfish.  Either way, the best thing about puzzles is that you can easily see your progress, and more often than not, you do reach completion–which is not always the case with my other hobbies.

If I am lucky, I can put it in a place where the cat won’t disturb it and work on it from time to time.  I don’t usually put in big chunks of time unless I get sucked in by fitting lots of pieces, or because I should go to bed…and I keep telling myself, “just one more piece.”  In these cases, I seem to devote a lot more time to it.

I am a typical puzzle maker….I think.  I start by assembling the edges first.  That seems logical, but I wonder…is there someone out there who starts in the middle and works their way to the edges?  That would be pretty cool to see.

assembling the train is a priority
Since most of my puzzles feature trains, the train gets assembled first.  The worst thing is that I am usually left with sky, and lots of it.  This isn’t bad if you’re doing the puzzle under natural light, but under a light bulb differentiating light blue from lighter blue isn’t so easy.  This latest puzzle was rather odd in that I got the sky done before the mountains.  No complaints, but it just isn’t the way things have been going lately.

not just sky left…this time
I happy it is done, and I won’t be doing another puzzle until September or later….It’s funny how I think I can plan these things, when I know that’s not true.  I’ll do a puzzle when my fancy strikes me, not when I plan it.  I could have a hundred other projects before I see another puzzle.

The Number Four Hobby I Would Take Up

If I had enough room in my basement I would love to have a true “man cave” like I see them build on those supposedly reality based TV shows.  I would love to have the bigger than big screen TV, the well decorated and stocked bar, the array of La-Z-Boy recliners for me and the buds, the deluxe table hockey game, and of course a fantastic pool table with the balls to play snooker, 8 ball and 9 ball.
I have seen Paul Newman as Fast Eddie in The Hustler many times–I even bought my father the book last Father’s Day.  I love watching those incredible shots the pool sharks make, and I would love to be good at pool.  I would love to be able to walk into a pool room, assemble my cue and beat the best in the house.  I would love to be a ranked player playing matches on television.

I have loved playing pool since I was a child.  I have ventured into pool halls of questionable character, and played at bars.  I have always dreamt of having my own table, and my own cue.  Nothing marks a person so clearly as a two or three piece cue slung over their back as they are mixing with the huddled masses of the public transportation set. 
 
Of course, there are several obstacles to these dreams.  Money and space seem to be the two biggest of them.  I could barely fit a 4X8 table in my basement (and then I would probably have to relocate both the television and the train set.  So making it a “man cave” seems to be out of the question unless I move to a bigger house, or at least a house with a bigger basement.

As far as money goes.  I think if one is going to buy a pool table they should buy a good one.  A crappy pool table with thin slate and low quality felt would quickly become old and undesirable.  If you have to replace it quickly then it really wasn’t worth the money–at least that’s how I look at it.

As far as becoming a great player.  I would need a lot of practice, and that would eat into my other hobbies.  In addition, I am probably too old to ever become great at pool–but at least I would be able to beat my friends when we went out to a bar.

Hobbies I would take up: The bottom 5 (part 3)

I’m a guy.  Not a particularly enlightening sentence (and much shorter than I allow most of my students to construct) but true nonetheless.  As a guy, I come with typical guy attitudes and stereotypes.  One of those is guys should be good with tools, have lots of tools, and be able to talk about tools.  This does not discount women.  I have met women who met all three criteria.  I am not inept with tools, and I have quite a few of them, and I have completed a project or two.  However, there will not be a reality show featuring me completing wonderful and complex projects in a quick half hour.  The problem is, sometimes, I wish I could.

I wish I had more time, energy and talent to build wonderful pieces of furniture.  I hate going to stores and seeing the crappy, particle board furniture that is ubiquitous.  I want to build beautiful solid wood pieces.  I’m talking about a new headboard, a new TV stand, wood paneling for the pool room (someday), a coffee table with a train layout in the bottom.  The problem is a lack of pure talent, space, energy, and money. The last being rather important because good wood is rather expensive–and the lack of talent could only lead to beginner mistakes and more purchases of lumber.

At to this that well made, ornate furniture would probably require some carving or filigree (thank you spell checker) and that requires talent.

Someday, I may take this up, starting small of course (bird house, deck) and work my way up to coffee table, or end table.  However, until that time, I guess I will have to shop at better places.