Riding The Horse – Part Fifteen – When Is A Hobby Shop?

Not where – when? Where merely defines the location of the premises; when lets you know what you’re standing in once you enter the door. Not all hobby shops are hobby shops.

Take a for-instance – we’ll look at Bunnings – an Australian restaurant chain that sells sausages at the front of the premises and hardware as a sideline. Bunnings shops appear to many to be large warehouses full of toilet fittings, paint swatches and MDF sheets. So they are, but they are more than just storage sheds – they are hobby shops for any number of people. Here is how they reach that status:

  1. They sell things that are specifically intended for building or making. There are no end of things in there that can end up being useful or decorative. Many of them will take skin off your hands as they do so.
  2. They sell things that no-one else has. This is partially because the things – the stainless steel clothesline router hammers – are specific to one job and partially because no-one else in the town wants anything to do with them. Sometimes you find things in there of which Bunnings want no part, but have a large selection…
  3. They sell correlated items. From the timber to the screws to the brushes to the paint you can trace an organic connection on the shelves.
  4. They sell expensive stuff. Stroll down the tool aisle and glance at the price of the Dremel cutting bits – if you dare.
  5. They sell stuff that gets you in. Okay, it’s not as simple and wholesome as buying nickel bags of marijuana down an alley and progressing to full-blown heroin addiction. But it’s just as insidious. A few screws here, a router bit there, and pretty soon you’ve spent the food and rent money on a pallet-load of Meranti and a pocketknife and started whittling. Just say no…
  6. They sell things that get you laughed at by others. There is no respect possible when you bring home toilet fittings. The very nature of the thing brings out the cloacal jokes in people. 
  7. There are clubs that use the goods they sell. Some are harmless, like the Medieval Torture Society, and some, like the Over-60’s Mens Shed, are positively menacing. Bunnings makes no stipulation on what their customers might do with the twenty-penny nails and the barbecue coals, but.

The truth is that any shop may be a hobby shop depending upon what the customers have decided to do with the goods. Officeworks employees and water-pump agencies might well be surprised at what they see at the Annual Spreadsheet and Irrigation Show in the State Library. It might startle them, but I’ll bet it will not stop them selling cashbooks or brass flanges.

Riding The Horse – Part Four – It’s Only A Workshop If You Work

There is an Australian meme that says every man needs a shed. It is attacked by those who wishes to press themselves forward, demanding equality, but fortunately in this case that generally involves dirt and hard work. You can let ‘em into your shed to rant away, but leave the door open for when they discover the spiders and the pools of old motor oil.

If you wish to make a hobby of making things, you have a choice as wide as the world of what to do. Every object you see about you was made by someone. With the possible exception of an nuclear reactor, you can do the same. Indeed, if you are prepared to make scale modelling your thing, you can have your own Oak Ridge, Hanford, or Semipalatinsk. And the advantage of a scale model is that you won’t die of radiation poisoning.

Each hobbyist’s bent will be different, and each can be guided by what they like in life, and what materials they like to work with. 

You like wood? Make tables, chairs, beds, cabinets, boats, chessboards, boxes, etc, etc. The hardware stores and wood merchants are your friends and will have machines, tools, and finishes enough to keep you busy forever. There will be books, magazines, YouTube videos, clubs and societies all over that you can repair to for advice and admiration. Go on – knock yourself out.

Metal your thing? Howzabout blacksmithing, etching, welding, fabrication, boatbuilding, furniture, clockmaking, casting, railway work. Expect to get big and black and dirty doing any of these and become resigned to the blood blister and the burn.

Plastic? Model kits, artwork, fabrication, furniture, casting, imbedding.

Mechanical things? Oh Dear Me. Classic cars, hot rods, car maintenance, clockmaking watch repair, camera repair, motor boats, steam engines, oil engines, old farm machinery, tool restoration, appliance repair… be careful to get good at what you do but keep it secret because as soon as people find out that you can fix things they will come to you to have things fixed. Your hobby will become work and you’ll need a hobby to relax from your hobby…

Cloth? Clothing making, dressmaking, costume making, sail making, awning work, upholstery, knitting, tatting, crochet work, embroidery, lacework…I cannot list all the things you could make with fibres…

Leather? Shoes, saddles, belts, bodices, BDSM gear, military equipages, furniture, art, carvings, bookbinding, fake steaks at cheap restaurants…

Paper? Bookbinding, paper making, magazine and pamphlet printing, origami, model making.

Rubber? Well…besides BDSM wedding dresses, you can become a tyre repair as a hobby. Or make mats, boating gear, or other waterproof goods.

Electronics? Despite the fact that we get lots of goods from overseas, we also have good electronic stores that sell components and circuits. You can make or mend  – your choice. You can get zapped either way.

Plants? Grow a garden, grow a lawn, grow a vineyard, grow an orchard. Stop when you run afoul of agricultural law or produce boards and you should be fine. Exhibit, eat, or dig in the results of your endeavours. If you smoke them, expect to be visited by either the local Don or the local detectives.

In short, there are no end of things that you can make. If you make them for yourself, you are rewarded with both pride of ownership and competence. Sometimes you can gain a financial advantage making your own goods – sometimes not. Be wary of making things for profit, as this quickly erodes the hobby benefit.

Be prepared to go from one form of making to another as you gain skill and need to expand. Also be aware that you can get to a plateau or a rut – I have 5 tables made by an old hobbyist who was a friend of my late mother-in-law. They are a delight individually but a nuisance in a group. I hope to give several away to the unwary.

Remember, as well, that some making hobbies border upon the expressive or artistic pursuits. This is no bad thing in itself unless the maker sees more in it than there actually is – or if someone else tries to make art out of mere work.

Yamahaaaa! – The Bidet You’ll Never Forget

A friend recently praised bidets. Gave them the thumbs up. I’ve stopped laughing at this now, as I am weak and my sides ache.

I must say at this juncture that the posting was in support of cleaner and more eco-friendly sewage and all the people who commented were in favour of it. So we should be, because when it all goes to shit, none of us want to be the one standing there with the rubber gloves.

And the bidet is apparently a good answer to the problem – or so I am told by people who are prepared to stand for that sort of thing. Or perhaps that should be sit…In any case they take their corporate responsibilities seriously and are trying to cut down the paperwork at the orifice.

Oh Dear God, stop me before I keel over…

I have little experience with them – bidets I mean. I have avoided French toilets by not going to France very often, and the only occasion that saw me sitting at a fundament fountain ( Agg, Agg, Erk…) was in Japan. I am led to believe the control panel by the side of the hoo hoo was to make soothing sounds but I just reckon they were all frustrated Zero pilots there and liked the idea of a cockpit when they put their co….Oh, this is just going to be disaster if I keep typing….

And before you ask, the answer is ” No “. No, I did not press any of the buttons. Not while I was going to be sitting in the ejection seat, anyway. I had a Sears and Roebuck catalogue and I figured it was better to go with what I knew than venture into uncharted waters. I’m prepared to risk my neck, but I don’t keep my neck down there…

Mickey Mouse Has A Sweet Tooth

A few days ago I caught Mickey Mouse in a rubbish bin in my computer room. Or rather, I think he caught himself – he fell into the bin and couldn’t get out. I took him to the front yard, pointed him toward the neighbour’s house and tapped on the bottom of the bin. Away he flew.

Today we noticed a little scrap paper in the dining room near the sideboard. And then we opened the door…

That was a spare chocolate Advent calendar we had stored in the sideboard. Every date container save one was nibbled open and the chocolate mysteriously made to vanish. I suspect a miracle…

To his credit, he did not poo in the sideboard.

The cat was unavailable for comment.

Have You Ever Slept With A Woman?

I’ve tried. With limited success.

When you are young you attempt this for a variety of reasons – the chief one being the period of time before you actually go to sleep. You hope to be busy. If you are lucky, both of you can occupy yourselves profitably in this period, and the less said about that the better. Mind you, if there is money involved in that profit, one of you is doing it wrong…

But after that period in your life, the time spent in bed – the bit where you actually go to sleep – can be increasingly difficult. If sleep is wanted, and needed, you require a few simple things; warmth in winter, coolness in summer, a reasonable silence, and lack of movement. As you get older, these become less likely.

Oh, you may be as much a problem as her, and the equation equal on both sides. I’ll leave you to decide who is the culprit. You may wish to set a night-vision camera in motion at dusk to record who steals the covers, thrashes around like a squid, or snorts like a Union Pacific Mallet locomotive going through Ogden. Then replay it to accuse each other. It will be concrete evidence but you’ll never convince the other party that they are guilty.

The chiefest conclusion that you can come to about adults sleeping together is that the old American sit-com TV shows with the parents sleeping in twin beds instead of a double were not as ludicrous as they seemed. They eliminated at least two factors in the blood-shot-eye battles – movement and covers. The noise of snoring, snorting, gurgling or moaning was still there. Fortunately our hearing declines after 60 and this became less of a problem.

The wild card is provided by children or pets who insist on entering the marital bedroom and hogging the marital bed. Neither class of creature respects privacy, personal space, or the need to avoid flatulence. And they have the infuriating habit of sleeping while they prevent others from doing so. It is the reason dog-whips were invented, and recently I found out that you could use these on dogs as well.

Home Six – Bed

I live at home.

And for eight hours a day I live horizontal next to a wife and a cat. We have a big bed, and if we are decent about it we need not impinge upon each other’s territory. The cat developed the habit of getting into bed by coming to my side of it and jumping up onto my bits, but I countered this by doing the hockey protector pose when I heard him enter the room and the worst that happens now is a bounce and a thud. On occasion he has tried to lie starfished onto my entire side of the bed but I pick up the blanket and sheet and roll him off.

We have also discovered that you can get a marvelous pad for the top of the mattress that means Mrs. I want to roll around like a pig in a fit can do so without disturbing Mr. for God’s sake lie still until I go to sleep. It has prevented divorce, suicide, homicide, and worse.

The only down side to a very large bed is very large fitted sheets. They cost a lot, and sometimes do not fit as well as the makers would have you think. Oh, the top bit always covers something but putting on the bottom stretchy bit is like fighting a giant squid in a diving suit. And you’re not allowed to use a knife.

Bed is often taken as euphemism for sex. Fine. That’s always a good thing, provided everyone agrees. But also consider that a bed is also a bed. It can be a great comfort even if there is no-one jumping on your bits other than the cat.

Free To A Bad Home

We often see notices that say something – a pet, a piece of furniture, an old car – are free to a ” good ” home.

Good in this case seems to mean a place where the gift will be appreciated and cared for and loved as much as it was at your house. But the fact that you are getting rid of it calls that love into question. Okay, if you are about to be carted off to Pentridge for 3 to 5 and you want Tibby the pet liver fluke to survive and thrive – then the idea of a good home is sensible. Let’s hope Tibby gets lucky.

It’s a bit silly, though, when we can’t let go of the old couch or the out-of-registration Mazda without some strings attached. Seriously…if making it leave is the whole point of the advertisement, all we really need to concern ourselves with is getting it out of the place without scratching the door frame. Whether it becomes the centre point of an exhibition at the MOMA or is burned in someone’s backyard to distill corn liquor is not really our concern. Let. It. Go.

Likewise old ideas and old friendships. If they are so worn and weary as to be of no further use – if no further joy can be got – let them go and do not demand that they be given a bed and a plate of attention. Someone else may, indeed, learn to love them but they can do so on a fresh basis without your help or blessing.

The world changes. Every dawn that comes up is different from the last one you saw. By all means open your sack of life and take out the day’s experiences and use up some of the old ones the get the new ones going, but do not expect that other people will get as much out of them as you do. Empty that sack regularly, turn it inside out, and give it a good shake.