Found

Let’s talk about life’s frustrations.  Here is one that hobbyists can relate to–especially if you do jigsaw puzzles.  You know how when you’re doing a jigsaw puzzle, you come down to the end and you discover that there’s a piece missing.  It is pretty frustrating and makes you doubt everything.  Those are terrible days.

puzzle 005

Fear not for I offer important news.  While walking to the library, I found it.  Contact me and I will send it to you.  If you find my other sock from the dryer, I hope you will be as kind.****

***I wrote a very similar piece for my other blog.  I apologize to anyone who is kind enough to subscribe to both of them.

 

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Revisiting Puzzle Agony

Though I swore to myself I would not do another jigsaw puzzle, that’s exactly what I did

.April winter 004.JPG

What cruel circumstances led to this? Well, it is a combination of forgetful ambition and the words of a parent who seemed eager to do the puzzle.

The forgetful optimism allowed me to forget the agony of the last puzzle and think “Hey! A puzzle would be fun!” The words of my Mom made me think that she would like to do a puzzle together to, in her words, “keep me sharp.”  Well, she took one look at the pieces and said, “There really small.”  I guess that is what I get by buying the puzzle at the Dollar Tree.  I certainly wasn’t expecting perfection, I just hoped it wouldn’t be as bad as the last one.

April winter 003.JPG

In the end, it wasn’t terrible and I finished it rather quickly. Despite not containing trains or train tracks or similar stuff, it was a pretty nice picture.  Now all I have to do is find somebody who wants it.

Nothing But Blue Sky

I do indeed like doing puzzles, but they often come to the same conclusion.  I quickly assemble the edges (Sheldon Cooper would be so proud), and sort the sky, sky and land, and land parts.  Then I assemble the edges where the sky and land meet.  Then I fill in the land parts.

Then I am left with the sky.

The Blue sky.
As you can see, I might have left the daunting part for last.  Actually, there is no “might” about it.  I have left the most daunting part last.  If not for clouds and sky gradation, I would have to try each piece in each part.  No, that’s not true. I would have to try half the parts (the vertical versus the horizontal parts) in each spot.


As for this puzzle, also another dollar store find, it was of much better quality than the last one.  It was a little more challenging to assemble, but that is probably a good thing.  I also appreciated being able to use the box bottom as a sorting tray–something I was not able to do in the last puzzle.

I think this is my last puzzle for the foreseeable future–but who knows.

A Quick Puzzle Before Christmas

Despite being the king (oops, I meant jack) of all hobbies, I have to admit, I haven ‘t done a lot of hobby related things lately.  I could blame the weather, or I could blame myself and the fall TV schedule.  Either way, I haven’t had a lot to write about.

I have been writing my other blog, whose links you can find on the right side of this page under the title “cool blogs”.  Mine is called Today’s Perfect Moment.  I have been putting a lot of energy there and have grown a rather large community in a short time.  There seems to be a lot more cross blogging done there and the page is set up to encourage followers.

HOBBY HAPPENINGS

While I haven’t done a lot, I have done some things.  Most recently, I got the itch to do a puzzle.  Maybe it is because I associate puzzles with Christmas.  I am surprised that no one gives these things as stocking stuffers anymore.  Knowing how addicting that can be, I really wasn’t in the mood to tackle a monster 5000 piece puzzle.  I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  What was my answer…the dollar store of course.

I found a couple of decent puzzles at the dollar store (Dollar Tree in this case) and purchased them for $1.25 each.  Even with Canadian tax, that still brought in two puzzles for less than $3.

I spent a couple of nights on the first one.  There seems to be no deterioration in my puzzle building skills and I was able to do it rather quickly.  Of course, that first night, I did the usual “just one more piece before I go to bed” thing, and wound up spending a hour or more when I should have been sleeping.  This probably was to the detriment of my students but I didn’t actually yawn while teaching.

The puzzle wasn’t the best quality.  The fit was a little loose and it came apart a couple of times.  Some pieces still had untrimmed edges (there seemed to be extra paper at the bottom layer of some of the pieces) and one was a little crumpled.  However, it only cost $1.25, so I can’t get tremendously angry about that.

When I lived in Japan, I bought frames and puzzle glue for the puzzles.  However, these days, now that I have finished, I will probably take it apart and give it to someone else to do.

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.

2013: A Year in Hobbies

The most popular place in Tokyo to spend New Year’s Eve–in Nanoblocks (fitting isn’t it)
 
 
Despite what people might think, Christmas is not necessarily the greatest time for hobbyists.  Yes, Christmas brings the potential of much wanted presents for the hobbyist.  It might also bring a good boxing day sale (as it did in my case) but that doesn’t mean there really is time to actually do anything.  Christmas is so full of stuff that the real hobby season may not begin until the start of the new year.

I know there are people out there who had planned and executed their Christmas shopping and preparation by September.  Those people probably have had lots of time to play with trains or build model cars.  Based on what people on my favourite train site are saying, there seems to have been lots of time to improve their models and run quite a few trains.

I have not been blessed with too many vacation days–yes, I am that guy.  They guy you see marching off to work like some lemming every morning while you are still in your PJs enjoying that first cup of coffee.  While this may sound like sour grapes (and at times it is) I was still better off than the people around here who didn’t have power until Christmas day.  Even if those people had the day off, they couldn’t have run trains or powered an airbrush.

 

The new year is upon us, and I should take stock of the –in terms of hobbies.  Life has been pretty full, but I’d rather focus on what this blog is supposed to focus on.

  • I have enjoyed blogging and while this blog’s readership has been growing slowly, the blog that I set up to help my students’ English has done remarkably well.  I have even done a good job of preparing and working ahead, so I don’t need to panic the day before a lesson is supposed to be published.
  • I have reconnected with the Nscale.net website and have enjoyed their advice and stories as part of my effort to build my n scale train layout.
  • I have built and painted several models, and can feel good about my improvement in these areas.
  • I have spent time running trains and have reignited my passion in this area.
  • I have come to love Nanoblocks, but hate that they aren’t as readily available as their big brother Lego.  While they are popping up at toy stores, they soon sell out and restocking seems to take months.
  • My passion for reading allowed me to read 44 novels this year.  While this is by no means a record for myself, I think it isn’t too bad since for a quarter of the year I had my head buried in ESL methodology books.
  • I found time to do a few Jigsaw puzzles, but wonder what to do with them after they are built.
  • I have watched far too much YouTube, but I am happy that the few things I have posted have seemed popular.  Though, honestly, I am not sure why unboxing the Statue of Liberty Nanoblock kit is so popular.  Maybe one of you could watch it and let me know.
  • It hasn’t been a stellar year for practicing Japanese, but I still feel good about my ability.
In my next blog, I will look ahead to the coming year and what joy it may bring.   Thanks for reading.

 

 

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.