Stamp collecting: a hobby for nerds?

Stamp collecting has a image problem.

Some people think it is rather pathetic; OK for kids but not an activity fit for grown men and women.

When I was a lot younger, I went to one of those encounter groups, where people are encouraged to let it all hang out and let rip with their emotions.

The group leader obviously thought I wasn’t entering into the spirit of things, as he said to me, “Why don’t you go back to your stamp collection?’

In an online chat forum, one fellow shows an interest in stamp collecting but seems concerned that others may mock him, as he says:

“The father of a mate of mine showed me some of his (stamp) collection and it really did look fantastic. I am tempted to have a go myself but it seems a bit nerdy.’”

The replies he received (see link below) assumed that it was indeed a nerdy hobby but no worse that some other hobbies, such as making plastic models from kits.

Like any other hobby, stamp collecting can help people relax by letting them absorb themselves in something which takes them away from their responsibilities, even when those responsibilities are formidable.

In my next post I shall have another look at this hobby and try to reach some sort of verdict on whether or not it can be described as, “The hobby of nerds.”


Coin collecting

Coin collecting has a less nerdy image than stamp collecting. There are some university types into coin collecting, They are quite posh about it and call themselves numismatists.

Today there are lots of fancy looking coins around which commemorate special events such as the Olympics and there are even coins with Disney characters on them.

Some are several centimetres in diameter and heavy with it. Put a few of them in your pocket or purse and you’ll know what a racehorse feels like which has weights strapped on for a race handicap.

These sorts of coin are aimed at ripping off collectors, – er – , that is, they are intended to appeal to collectors and are not intended for circulation.

If you are attracted by this type of coin, by all means collect them. Take pride in owning them, enjoy looking at them.

Just don’t risk disappointment by thinking you are own a valuable investment. It is possible that the coins may hold their value, or even increase in value but is more likely that they won’t, because there are too many other collectors holding them and demand may be  limited when you come to sell.

Coins and stamps are more likely to hold their value if they were produced for their original purpose, – currency in circulation or the cost of sending mail. If they have been produced to persuade collectors to empty their wallets, they are less likely to do so.

Gold and silver coins will keep the underlying value of the metal (the bullion value) but if the face value of the coins you bought are more than the bullion value you will most likely lose out when you come to sell.

The first coins were minted around two and a half millenia ago. One candidate for the first coin minted is the Lydian Lion, issued around 600 BC in Lydia, Asia Minor (now Turkey). Not all experts agree on this but the Lion has a good claim to be first.  For the full story and to see a picture of the coin see the following link:

My main collecting interests are early English coins and coins from the Byzantine Empire (324-1483). Holding these coins in my had gives  me  a imaginative link with the men and women who used them all those centuries ago when life was more perilous,  lacking in comfort  and so much shorter, compared with today.




Weight loss; what’s to be done?

I lost about 10 lbs last year, starting from 177 lbs and later in the year I put it all back !

 I’ve been wanting to lose about 15 lbs since the start of  2012 and I’m now on my way to doing it.  I’m 5 ft 11 ins and weighted 184 lbs before I started to lose weight.

I don’t think I’m seriously overweight at 184 lbs but have had a bulge round my stomach and would prefer to be 168 lbs or less. I’ve decided I want to investigate weight loss in a methodical way.

I want to find a way of looking at all the conflicting claims for diets that claim to produce permanent weight loss and try to figure out what REALLY works.

Surely that’s a reasonable expectation?

Yet there are dozens of diets around!

Those who write about a particular diet are convinced that the diet plan they champion is the best one and all other diets don’t work.

So they write a book to support the cause of their diet

Typically, they give examples of men or women who have tried a whole bunch of diets, none of which have resulted in permanent weight loss.

In desperation, they adopt the diet promoted by the author.

Hey presto! It works. The dieters shed pound after pound and manages to keep it all off.

So, assuming the author has given an honest account of people’s experience, can all these authors be right!

It is possible! The diet may work for the people described by the author.

But does the diet work for everyone? Nope!

And can the author guarantee that those for whom it works will not backslide in the future and put all the weight on again? Hardly.

So I’m going to do some figuring out and see if I can reach some conclusions about what works and what doesn’t.

How you may ask, is an ordinary Joe like me going to ‘reach conclusions’ about such a puzzling issue?

How, indeed! But please bear with me as I try.

My favorite anorak

I think probably, because of my interests, some folk will think of me as an anorak. Stamp collectors are almost always thought of as anoraks!

If you live in the UK you’ll know what an anorak is. If you live outside the UK, you probably won’t.

An anorak is a garment, a waterproof jacket, usually with a hood. It’s usually worn by walkers and other outdoor types. Fashionable it’s not. Anoraks almost always look scruffy.

An anorak is, however, a type of person; a rather nerdy type of person.

Even though it is a British term, rather strangely, Peter Post of Boston, USA gives an excellent definition:

‘It is a term of mild abuse directed almost exclusively at men. Such men are usually obsessively interested in an obscure subject and/or activity – the archetypal one being trainspotting.’

Peter continues:

‘Such activities often require the participant to spend hours out of doors doing not much and occasionally writing something in a little book. Hence, such people often wear anorak because they are (a) cheap (b) practical (c) have lots of pockets for flasks, notebooks, pencils, other pencils etc’

More definitions are given in an article from ‘The Guardian’ newspaper, ‘What do the British mean when they call someone an ‘anorak’?,5753,-19185,

Most anoraks are harmless. I suppose, with my collecting interests, I would be regarded as an anorak by some.

If you wish to laugh at me, rather that with me, you’re most welcome!

My favorite anorak has gotta be an English guy who collects mail boxes.  He has more than 190 and keeps them all in his back garden.

When he got married, not surprisingly, he hesitated to tell his wife-to-be about his collection.

The reporter filing the story tactfully drew a veil over the lady’s reaction!

Here is the link to the story: