Immune from the Pandemic...Sorta!
By Scott Kruize
Here we still are, Pandemic confined and constrained. We must be careful about trips to the hobby shop, can't go to contests, trade shows, swap meets, air shows, or displays... if any of us even go to visit a modeling buddy one-on-one, we have to be guarded and circumspect, wearing masks and keeping distanced. What a pain! What a nuisance!
On the other hand...
We have privileged ourselves – above the normal run of humanity - with our built-in refuge from boredom and Covid-19 annoyances. Friends and relations, who don't share our hobby struggle with depression and confinement anxiety, might drink too much, and binge-watch too much TV. Whereas we're actually making dents in our stashes...busy at our obligatory 1-square-foot modeling work areas!
That's two references to the modeling community I belong to: the Seattle Chapter of the IPMS, and the NorthWest Scale Modelers, which in normal times meets at the Museum of Flight.
Our work areas: we once encouraged ourselves to tell others about where we modeled, using how much space. Turns out some make do with temp sessions, with rapid cleanups afterwards, at the dining room table... while others have a whole dedicated room. When we looked over the pics submitted though, our commonality was striking. Pretty much all of us actually work in a small space which we call, and not without justification, Our obligatory 1-square-foot modeling work areas! [Say, Column Readers: how big's your space?]
Our stashes: some years back, one of our members compiled a preliminary estimate of how many models our 150 or so Chapter members had piled up. Not everyone leaped in to volunteer information for the survey, but the number nevertheless sailed well past 50 thousand! Now, really, if that's all there were, isn't that still well over 300 models per stash? And if, at best, we're "cranking out" (!!) model builds at a rate of one every other month, doesn't that mean that without ever buying another kit, we can 'coast' for fifty years? Um...what do the actuaries say about us having that long to build...? [Say, Column Readers: how big's your stash?]
Way Back Then, when I started modeling after my 5th-grade birthday party, guess how many kits were in my stash at any one time? Unstarted, in unopened kit boxes, stashed on a shelf in my bedroom closet. Do you guess 3? Hah! That number's WAY too high! Howzabout 2? Hah! That number's WAY too high! Howzabout ONE? Hah! That number's WAY too high!
The fact is, I never owned more than one kit at a time, even on birthdays and at Christmastime...and what kit I did have was started the same day I got it. With rare exceptions, it would be finished that same day, too.
Now my stash is approximately five hundred. I say 'approximately' because I haven't recently brought myself to spend time and effort to count them all again...even though I know there have been way more acquisitions than completions, since the prior count.
I have between 12 and 20 started models, in various build stages. Notice that I can't even work up the moral will to count those precisely. Inconceivable, Back Then...but also, quite inconceivable that someday I'd spend many hours, spread over days or even weeks, finishing a single model once I started it.
By a very circuitous route, the Point of all this rambling comes: we have enough to do to stave off Pandemic boredom. As I write this, vaccines are coming available, so it won't be long now...but HOWEVER long, we can hold out...and, we will! OK, so we can't all get together and hang around in a big group like we used to. Now, we're not going to whine about the current situation, for two reasons:
First, it's not in our modeling nature to whine. We're much more motivated to tackle problems as they occur, with fine brush, or #1 X-Acto knife... or in the absolute worst case, tossing the problem in the wastebasket.
Second, this is for those of you who haven't yet had me preach to you about this, there's the Gospel According to Jane Harbors. My former colleague at work condescended to educate me, shortly after I started. She described how she was better at whining than anybody else – and it never did any good. This led to the inevitable inference: it's pointless for anyone else to whine!
So Now, when we get together, it's 'virtually'...using marvelous electronic devices and applications to simulate in-person communications. But what's wrong with that? We can still do a reasonable job of keeping up with each other, even doing a facsimile of Show-&-Tell, right here in CyberSpace.
Let's look on the bright side. (Oh, please: not like the skit that ends Monty Python's movie Life of Brian...) There's actually a great advantage to not being able to get together, cheek-by-jowl. Our favorite 'CATZ' cartoonist, B. Kliban, left us long before we got into our current...ah...cultural and political 'climate'...but realized that groups of people may come to realize they're at opposing poles...starting with signs like 'People Against FOR!' and 'People For AGAINST!' ...and unable to reach reasonable middle ground, start hitting and throwing things. [I don't want to worry our Webmeister about copyright infringement by showing the cartoon directly here, but if you Query your favorite Search Engine - mine is 'DogPile' - for "Kliban against", the cartoon of opposing protesters will come right up.]
We modelers will never do that. We'll keep on supporting each other, devoting our outwards-facing energy and efforts only to fighting those teensy malevolent specks. Otherwise, we keep up our hobby – and lives we've built around it – in our way, namely:
Build What You Want, the Way You Want To...and Above All, Have Fun!